Blackberries and blueberries must be promoted on taste rather than purely on health grounds if the category is to continue its growth, one of the UK’s largest berry marketers has said.

The two berries have traditionally been positioned as superfruits, but further category growth would come through their promotion on flavour and taste grounds, said BerryGardens MD Nicholas Marston. This could be combined with the locally produced concept to create a powerful marketing message, he added.

Growers have been planting increased quantities of better-eating varieties such as Karaka Black and Obsidian in the early season, followed by Driscoll Carmel in the later season.

“I expect our better-eating blackberry offer will help drive sales to far higher levels than the crop currently enjoys, and to increase our share as consumers and retailers recognise the value of sweet-eating dessert quality blackberries,” said Marston at the Fruit Focus trade event this week.

Albeit from a low base, blackberry sales for the year to June 15 were up 57% to £22m [TNS] year-on-year.

KG Growers was also boosting the area of blueberries being planted in a bid to drive forward the category, the company claimed, adding that consumers were “rediscovering the pleasure of eating berries” as a treat.

Excellent-tasting fruit was also vital in strawberries, Marston said, in order for the fruit to maintain high prices. Premium varieties from the Driscoll programme, Jubilee and Camarillo, were selling well, while new varieties such as Amesti and Pasadena were due to come on stream in the next few years, he said.

New Driscoll varieties would also help drive raspberry growth. “We expect to further increase sales and market share at the expense of inferior varieties and techniques such as Polka, Himbo Top and fruit from late-season long-cane Glen Ample production,” he added.