They may be the forgotten fruit of the fresh produce aisle, but blackcurrants could be the next big thing in healthy eating, if a group of growers gets its way.
After enviably watching blueberry producers carve out a profitable niche in retailers up and down the country, blackcurrant growers have pulled together in a bid to offer an even healthier alternative.
They have formed the Blackcurrant Foundation, which will run the first ever marketing campaign for British-grown blackcurrants this summer. The foundation will aim to raise awareness of the health benefits of eating blackcurrants and reverse a slump in sales.
TNS figures show that volume sales of blackcurrants took an
18.5% nosedive in the year to May 22, bottoming out at 54 tonnes. Value sales, meanwhile, fell 3.2% to £556,000.
“The health benefits of blueberries have become well-known in the past few years, but the blackcurrant has almost disappeared from the consumer’s consciousness,” said Joanna Hilditch, chairman of the Blackcurrant Foundation, and MD of Herefordshire blackcurrant grower Whittern Farms. “Studies show that blackcurrants contain higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruits or vegetables, including the blueberry. We will bring this great British fruit back to the forefront of people’s minds via an awareness campaign that will target consumers as well as the trade.
“This is a real opportunity for retailers to include more blackcurrants on their shelves, as more consumers opt to eat blackcurrants as part of a healthy lifestyle.”
Blackcurrant Foundation members grow 2,000 hectares of blackcurrants across Britain, producing 14,000 tonnes of fruit every year, the vast majority of which is used in processing. It is hoped the campaign will stimulate new plantings.
Richard Clarke