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Farmer gives away blueberries worth millions of pounds

A Scottish farmer is giving away a crop of blueberries which would normally be worth millions of pounds.

Peter Thomson has 60 acres of blueberry bushes on his farm in Blairgowrie, Perthshire.

He said the fruit would previously have been worth about £3m - but its value had fallen by about £1m this year.

Mr Thomson said it no longer made economic sense to harvest the fruit, which will now benefit local charities and be given to a food bank.

Scottish blueberries have traditionally commanded a high price as they were ripe at a time of year when those produced in other countries were not ready for harvesting.

New varieties are now grown in places such as Peru and South Africa, meaning that advantage has been lost.

Normally 200 full-time workers would have picked hundreds of tonnes of blueberries this year.


But Mr Thomson, whose team have been operating for 30 years, said the cost of growing, picking, packing and transporting the blueberries to the supermarket made that unviable.

He told BBC Scotland's Landward programme that blueberries were being imported from sub-tropical countries like Peru and South Africa which had developed new genetics.

"They can grow them at any time of the year, so this special season that Scotland had has disappeared.

"Instead of the high price bit of the season, it's the low price bit of the season.

"The labour in these countries costs a tenth of what it costs here and we can't compete."

Now local charities are racing against time to pick as much fruit as they can before it goes off.

"We've left it open to charities to come and have pick-your-own days, and the money goes to charity," said Mr Thomson.

Hundreds of people took part in one recent open day. They gave a donation in return for the blueberries and raised £4,000.

Hannah Hamilton, who was picking for Stirling Community Food, said the project hoped to deliver the fruit to people who need it rather than it being wasted.

Hannah Hamilton said blueberries were an amazing fruit. IMAGE SOURCE: LANDWARD

"They have quite a lot of queues out the door at the moment because everyone is struggling a little bit," she said.

"So this kind of thing becomes even more important, but one of their main aim is to reduce the waste."

She said blueberries were an "amazing" food, adding: "The more you can eat the better really.

"If people can't use them straight away they can make compote out of them they can freeze them.

"At Stirling Community Food they have a big freezer so none of the things we pick are going to waste.

"They are still perfect and there's just fields of them still left and you don't want them to just drop off and rot - that's just terrible."

Landward is available on the BBC iPlayer.


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