Best New Variety Top/Soft Fruit - Winner: Driscoll's Victoria, Berry Gardens

Twice the size of a regular blackberry and much sweeter, Driscoll's Victoria has already made a significant impact on the berry category.

Best New Variety Top/Soft Fruit - Winner: Driscoll's Victoria, Berry Gardens
Best New Variety Top/Soft Fruit - Winner: Driscoll's Victoria, Berry Gardens

Sweet enough to snack on without any accompaniment, just like a strawberry or grape, the variety is already listed by all major UK supermarkets, which have seen year-on-year doubling of sales. All this within what is already a maturing berry market, with penetration at 84 per cent of UK households.

Unsurprisingly for a native fruit, blackberries grow well commercially in the UK, and Driscoll's Victoria is currently being grown from April through to October, with plans to extend this even further, so reducing the need for imported fruit. This is key for blackberries because, unlike strawberries, customers do not treat them as a seasonal fruit but seek them steadily throughout the year.

The Berry Gardens grower group first grew Driscoll's Victoria commercially in 2014, sharing its experiences within the group to accelerate knowledge. The group has also undertaken research into how consumers view sweet-eating blackberries. It found that they are seen as a versatile berry that can be eaten throughout the day - either at breakfast, as a mid-morning snack, replacing the traditional fruit option at lunchtime or even after dinner.

Sweet blackberries also over-index on younger men, a market the more traditional berries do not reach so readily, so widening the pool of customers to the berry aisle.


Glen Dee Raspberry, James Hutton


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