French retailers demand locally grown blueberries
March 15, 2020

Centra Blue, the new selection from New Zealand by the Plant and Food Research, can be found at the Multibaies nursery. Adapted to the French soil and weather conditions, it usually produces berries from the end of August - period which coincides with the end of the Polish production - until mid-October.

“The peculiarity of this variety is that it is very late. Nowhere else in the world can you find a variety that produces so late. In a context where the small fruit sector is relatively speculative, there is always an interest in producing before or after everyone else. Centra Blue therefore represents a real business opportunity for independent producers and has the real advantage of being a free-distribution variety,” explains Mathieu Billotte, director of Multibaies.

The Centra Blue variety

For this very late variety with large fruits and good conservation qualities, France seems to be a particularly interesting production zone. “What is the most relevant when planting a variety like Centra Blue is to do so in late areas in order to profit the most from it,” explains Mathieu. “In terms of temperatures, the north of Portugal and Spain are suitable, but there are important rainfall constraints. France, however - from the south to Anjou - is a very good candidate.”

Besides, the variety will benefit from the EU certification from 2022. This twofold certification is based on EPPO standards (European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization), implying sanitary guarantee on the one hand and varietal compliance on the other hand.

“Large retailers want more and more that their blueberries come from France” 

80% of the plant production at Multibaies is intended for export, namely to Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Serbia, Romania, Turkey and Georgia. Most of the blueberries consumed in France still come from abroad, but the situation is changing. “The consumption of blueberries in the country increases each year. There is indeed a shortage of French blueberries on the French market. But there is an increasing demand from large retailers, therefore inducing changes within the sector.”