Grower-owned cooperative Berry Gardens is launching Britian's first locally produced organic blueberries due to what it says is rising demand for healthy produce.
Hertfordshire grower Haygrove is producing the premium Liberty variety blueberries that are finding their way into select Waitrose stores through Berry Gardens.
“As leaders in producing innovative berries of exceptional quality, we are proud to be the first in the UK to bring to market best-in-class, home-grown organic blueberries to Waitrose at a time when nutrition and health is a focus for all of us," Berry Gardens CEO Nick Allen says of the berries, which boast an abundance of nutritional health benefits including vitamin C, fibre content and high antioxidant compounds.
The release of the Liberty blueberries is happening during the peak of British blueberry season (mid-June- Mid October). In the past six years, blueberry production has grown by 77%, according to British Summer Fruits. Volumes this year are 14% higher than last season.
The Liberty blueberry is a late season variety known for balanced flavour, sky blue colour and are medium to large in size. The variety is high chill, making it favourable for growing in the UK climate.
“Our organics provide high-quality berries using methods that deliver a breadth of benefits across the whole food system," says Angus Davison, chairman of Haygrove. "We’ve applied our significant school fees learning how to produce organic strawberries and raspberries into growing Waitrose’s first UK organic blueberries, and we look forward to new consumers enjoying them”
Organic blueberries must meet a strict number of standards. Organic farming uses a limited number of naturally derived pesticides, no artificial fertilizers and crop rotation to maintain healthy soil and natural methods to control pests and diseases. It takes at least two years to convert land to be registered as organic by the Soil Association.