Buy locally grown blueberries over imports - farmer

Blueberry harvesting farm
Hall Hunter Partnerships will grow about 3,000 tonnes of blueberries this year [BBC/Julia Gregory]

A blueberry grower is calling on the public and fellow farmers to choose locally grown produce over imported varieties.

Hall Hunter, which runs two farms in Surrey, will grow about 3,000 tonnes of blueberries this season – nearly 50% of the entire UK harvest.

But with demand increasing, more than 64,000 tonnes of blueberries are expected be imported in 2024.

Managing director Jim Floor said he wanted to encourage other farmers to grow British blueberries and stamp out mass importation.

“One of our main challenges is that the UK consumer hasn’t really worked out that you can get UK blueberries,” he said.

“It’s about making sure people realise that food miles and air miles are bad things, and that they should be supporting UK agriculture.”

Jim Floor
Hall Hunter managing director Jim Floor said blueberries were “the perfect fruit” [BBC/Julia Gregory]

The British blueberry growing season runs from June to September.

Last year, British blueberries were worth £607m to the UK economy. This year, that is expected to increase dramatically, Mr Floor said.

Blueberry machine
The British blueberry growing season runs from June to September [BBC/Julia Gregory]

He said while the firm also grew strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, its biggest area of growth had been blueberries, adding that blueberries were “the perfect fruit”.

“I always say that if we could invent a pill that did all the things that blueberries do, then we would really have a winner on our hands,” he told BBC Radio Surrey.

“They are high in antioxidants, good at controlling cholesterol and blood pressure, helpful with mental health and cognitive controls and heart health.”

Hall Hunter has built a 55 hectare blueberry farm in Farnham after its yield increased four-fold in the last five years.

The company supplies major supermarkets including Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.

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