Quebec growers look to raise awareness and volume of haskap

Supply of the haskap berry out of Canada’s Quebec region is growing significantly every year, say local growers.

“The 2017 Quebec crop has been a record,” says Samuel Cote of Saint-Bruno, Québec-based Quebec Wild Blueberries Inc. “We’re estimating that Quebec has produced a little bit more to 90 tons.”

Cote adds that since planting some 1.5 million of bushes of the edible blue honeysuckle berry from 2007 onward in the Canadian province, supply is expected to double every year for several coming years. “And the rest of Canada is increasing their production of haskap as well,” he says. After Quebec, the second-largest producing region of haskap is the Canadian Prairies, largely the Saskatchewan and Alberta provinces.

Small-scale competition? 
In Quebec though, Cote notes that most of the production is coming from the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean, Quebec center and south of Quebec. Meanwhile competing countries growing haskap include the Ukraine, Poland, Japan, USA and Russia. “They’re producing some volumes but still low volumes--they mostly sell to local farmer market or local business,” says Cote. “Quebec and Canada want to grow and drive this industry to an international consumption and exportation worldwide level.”

As far as pricing, since the berries are frozen and available year-round, pricing tends to be relatively stable. “And institutions such as the University of Saskatchewan have helped developed a haskap variety for the frozen industry that can be mechanically harvested and has a unique flavour,” says Cote. “Many say frozen haskap taste like a mix of blueberry, raspberry, rhubarb and cassis. And the fact that this fruit can be mechanically harvested means that pricing will be attractive for large market. At this point, it is an expensive fruit compare to other fruit.”

Berry now available

For now, the challenge that lies ahead of growers along with higher pricing currently is awareness and growing it about the berry. “A couple of years ago, you couldn’t find any frozen haskap anywhere and now it’s possible,” he says. “And the good news is the volumes have reached a level to support the development of new product.”

For more information:
Samuel Cote
Quebec Wild Blueberries
Tel: +1-418-487-6687

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