12th April 2021 By Bridget O'Connell | email@example.com | @foodtickernz
T&G Global is to start selling its first crop of Australian grown blueberries domestically this summer, four years after it secured exclusive commercialisation rights for 16 varieties of the fruit.
The global fresh produce company, well-known for its Jazz and Envy brand apples, said the blueberries would be launched in Australian retailers in December and sold under its premium Orchard Rd brand.
A crucial difference with the new varieties, according to T&G variety commercialisation manager Danny Nightingale, was that the company would be able to grow blueberries all year-round. At present they were only grown in Australia for approximately eight months.
“This is a game changer for the local berry sector because now we can grow in Australia, for Australian consumers, year round, without the need to import from other countries,” Nightingale said.
T&G had spent the last two years conducting trials of the fruit after striking an agreement with Plant & Food Research in New Zealand, which saw it become the licence holder for the suite of 16 proprietary blueberry varieties in Australia – some of which were developed by USA-based Fall Creek Farm and Nursery.
Trails had been conducted in five states – Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia.
Around 60% of New Zealand’s annual blueberry crop was exported to Australia and Asia. New Zealand blueberry exports supplied the Australian market counter-seasonally to New South Wales, but at a similar time to other states.
NSW was the largest blueberry producing region in Australasia at 74%, followed by New Zealand on 15%.
T&G said it had 30 hectares already in the ground and producing, and another 30 hectares soon to be planted, so it expected volumes to steadily increase in 2021.
More than 17,000 tonnes of blueberries were now sold in Australia each year after rapid global growth in sales of the berry. Around 300 growers produced blueberries on more than 2500 hectares in all states.
Nightingale added that the trials had resulted in blueberries that were “bigger in size and tasting superior to what’s currently available.”
The trials included a mixture of the new varieties including Cargo, Last Call and Blue Ribbon. It was the first time these varieties had been grown in Australia, for the Australian market.
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