Scottish producers of a new “superfood” berry – which has been said to have the ability to make cancer treatments more effective – are enjoying a bumper crop.
One of the main producers of the aronia berry, Thomas Thomson in Perthshire, said the recent warm spell will almost double their crop compared with last year due to favourable growing conditions.
The firm said it expects this year’s harvest to total ten tonnes – up from just six tonnes last year.
The berries, which originate from America and were a staple of the Native American diet, were brought to Russia in the late 1800s and cultivated in other parts of eastern and central Europe.
Last week, researchers revealed that the fruit, which is also known as “chokeberry”, may strengthen the effectiveness of a chemotherapy drug used to treat pancreatic cancer.
Company director Peter Thomson said he chanced upon the berries at the end of the 1990s when he was offered them by a Norwegian grower who was visiting the UK to promote aronias. Mr Thomson, who is the main supplier of the berry to supermarket giant Tesco, said: “We did some research and were impressed by their nutritional qualities and initially grew them to make juice.
“In 2007, we decided to grow them to sell fresh and planted one-and-a-half hectares. Last year, we produced six tonnes and, this year, if the fine weather continues, we look set to harvest ten tonnes.”
The fruit has a purple, almost black colour and a unique taste with a tartness said to be similar to the flavour of a cranberry, but with a slight sweetness that can be compared to that of a bramble.
The aronia berry can be consumed in many forms including in jam, yoghurts, juice, tea and wine.