This week, Hoogstraten's first strawberries are back on in Belgian stores. "They're looking excellent this year," says Hannah Docus of Coöperatie Hoogstraten. "The frost during the flowering period was a little challenging, but fortunately, our growers suffered manageable damage. And the beautiful spring weather ensured excellent quality blueberries."
Besides strawberries, blueberries represent the largest soft fruit group within Hoogstraten's soft fruit range. "The blueberries have a mild, sweet flavor and are in stores and markets until October. They have a soft downy layer, which is probably because they were harvested manually. When that layer disappears, they lose much of their flavor. So, once they've been picked, the berries are carefully sorted into boxes and briefly optimally refrigerated before being sold."
Blueberry demand and supply will undoubtedly coincide, says Hannah. "Harvesting is currently in full swing, and the supply will follow rapidly in the coming weeks. The first berries taste good, so demand is rising. They're, therefore, fetching decent prices at auction. With this positive start, we're generally hoping for a great season and will happily inspire people to get started with Belgian blueberries," she concludes.