Kateryna Zviereva: Blackberries in Ukraine are still a Niche Berry
Blackberries have certain advantages over raspberries. However, the market for this berry in Ukraine remains underdeveloped.
“The yield of blackberries is about four times higher than the yield of raspberries at almost the same growing costs, which means that a farmer who decides to grow high-quality varietal berries has a chance to get a high income. At the same time, varietal blackberries are also quite transportable crops,” says Kateryna Zvereva.
She also noted that the blackberries market is growing, but it is still underdeveloped compared to other berries.
“Therefore, if we consider this culture from the point of view of industrial production, then, of course, this line of business can be considered a niche at the moment due to the small number of market players involved in the cultivation of blackberries. However, it is worth noting that as soon as the culture begins to be grown massively, accordingly, it will lose its “niche,” as has already happened, for example, with blueberries,” claims Kateryna Zvereva.
At the Institute of Horticulture of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, experts note specific technological difficulties in cultivating blackberries.
“I believe that in the coming years, blackberries will remain a niche crop. This is influenced by several factors, including consumer preferences, a specificity of taste, and cultivation technology. Consumers are more accustomed to raspberries. When laying blackberry plantations, certain funds should be allocated for trellises. Berries need post-harvest processing, and they are not as transportable as, for example, the popular blueberry. Besides, the area under the blackberry will increase, and the berry has its right to further distribution. However, it is still difficult for blackberry to compete with the raspberry,” says Yana Tereshchenko, a senior researcher at the Berry Crop Technology Laboratory.
As for prices, during the period of mass harvesting of berries by Ukrainian farms in late June-early July, blackberries were sold on the market in the price range of $ 4.12-5.62 / kg. Currently, according to the UHA, despite a decrease in supply, the price on the market has also decreased, and at the end of last week, the berry was sold at an average price of $ 1.82 / kg.
“At the same time, the market trend can be called the expansion of demand for berries from consumers leading a healthy lifestyle, which is associated with the beneficial properties of blackberries,” said Kateryna Zvereva.
As for the varieties, according to Kateryna Zvereva, in the last 20 years, mainly the Loch Ness variety has been grown. The berries of this variety taste good, but only if they are ripe, so they should reach the consumer very quickly. The short lead-time limits sales. “Each variety of blackberry has its optimum degree of ripeness when the berries must be harvested,” notes Kateryna Zvereva.
At the end of 2019, a new blackberry variety called “Loch Tay” was added to the State Register of Plants in Ukraine. It is one of the earliest blackberry varieties (it ripens 2-3 weeks earlier than the well-known Loch Ness variety). Besides, according to UHA, two more new blackberry varieties, namely Natchez and Ouachita, are being prepared for registration in Ukraine, which were created as part of the berry crop breeding program of the University of Arkansas (USA).