GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – In just 10 years the consumption of blueberries in Switzerland has grown from 500 to 2,200 tons a year and in the past five years the space given over to growing them has nearly doubled. But the Swiss still consume only 50 g per person per year – compared to 600 g/person in North America.
Interest has grown in the fruit because of its health properties, in addition to flavour, but native varieties, which are found growing in acidic soil in the mountains, are not suitable for economically viable commercial farming anywhere but Ticino, where the soil is rich in organic matter.
The federal research station, Agroscope, has been running a series of tests on new varieties, including bringing in tasting panels. Three varieties, all originally from North America, have won the popularity contest: Nui, Poppins and Aurora. the first has large berries and can be harvested relatively early, while the second has smaller berries but that are notable for their flavour. The third can be harvested later, stretching the season.