Berryworld has braved concerns over a global blueberry shortage and unveiled the UK's first branded blueberry snack at this week's World Fruit and Veg show at London's ExCel.
Marketing manager Lisa Hoggarth said the first packs of its new Snackerries line would not be on sale until January, when supplies from Argentina and Chile should be in full swing.
"There's been a terrible crop in Argentina because of frost and the season is running five weeks late," she said. "Supplies are around half the level we'd normally expect at this time of year and they are not
due to recover until mid-
"However, there should be plenty of berries by the New Year."
Snackerries, which have an rsp of about 99p for an 80g pack, are aimed at the convenience market as a healthy snack. The berries equal one of the five recommended daily portions of fruit and veg, and the 5-a-day logo appears on the pack, which has been designed to resemble a bag of sweets, with bright colours and bold branding.
However, it is not aimed specifically at children, Hoggarth insisted. "We didn't want it to look too virtuous, so we've tried to make the packaging attractive to adults and kids."
The brand is being offered to BerryWorld customers Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose, and if the concept is a success, BerryWorld plans to add other soft fruits to the range in convenience formats.
Hoggarth said it was also looking at launching a twin-pot product with strawberries on one side and low-fat yoghurt on the other.
"The aim is to get four or five Snackerries products side-by-side in the chiller."
BerryWorld said it was confident it would secure listings in retailers, c-stores and forecourts and claimed it offered the only ready-washed berry product on the market. BerryWorld had to install a washer and dryer at its Northfleet packhouse to ensure the fruit went into the packs ready to eat.