HomeNewsBlueberry harvest in 2024 will be the best ever — British producer

Blueberry harvest in 2024 will be the best ever – British producer

Berry grower Hall Hunter has high expectations for its 2024 UK blueberry season. The company has 140ha of production spread across four farms in Berkshire and Surrey and supplies all the major UK supermarkets. This year it expects to harvest a crop of 3,000 tonnes of blueberries, accounting for 50 per cent of total UK output.

“Harvesting kicked off last week and we will continue to harvest until mid-September,” managing director Jim Floor tells Fruitnet. “We are very confident our 2024 blueberry crop will be the best-ever. The recent warm weather helped produce excellent flowers and our 5m bees have worked hard to pollinate the crop – the berries are plentiful.”

Despite the influx of cheaper imports from countries like Peru seen in recent years, the market for British-grown blueberries is growing at 30 per cent year-on-year, and Floor believes there is plenty of room for further expansion. The company’s own output is set to grow significantly with the opening of a new 70ha farm in Surrey next year.

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“Blueberries have not been seen a traditional British berry in the same way as strawberries or raspberries – but the quality and taste are exceptional and customers are asking for our products,” he says.

“British Blueberries are seen by consumers as a premium product compared to those from other sources – some of which have spent 4-6 weeks in transit.”

Last summer, Hall Hunter took to the streets of south London during the Wimbledon tennis championship to give out free samples of blueberries with cream as an alternative to the traditional strawberry-and-cream tennis fare.

Asked if labour availability will be a challenge this season, Floor says he’s confident that the company’s strong focus on worker welfare will mitigate this risk. The company will employ 1,200 seasonal workers this year, all recruited via the Seasonal Workers Visa Scheme.

“We are really proud of our staff and the facilities we offer them. Sixty-five per cent return every year and have chosen to work for Hall Hunter because of our enhanced worker offer,” he said.

At the same time, the company continues to invest in packhouse automation and technology.

It recently installed a brand-new blueberry grading and packing machine that uses AI technology, and this year it has invested in a blueberry harvesting machine capable of picking 600kg of fruit per hour (versus a hand-picking rate of 10kg per hour). It is also trialling robotic systems in the fields, such as runner robots to deliver picked fruit to transport and UV robots to treat disease and reduce pesticide use.

Investments in new genetics are also continuing apace. In the past two years, Floor says the company has invested over £1m in new premium varieties, principally Sekoya from Fall Creek.


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