Blueberry boom in Britain driven by health benefits

Related tags Nutrition Uk

Sales of blueberries in the UK have rocketed over the last year as
consumers seek the health benefits recently linked to the fruit.

The country's leading retailer Tesco says that blueberry sales have risen by 185 per cent since last September and are growing month by month.

Other retailers have confirmed similar growth - Waitrose says sales are up 150 per cent - making the fruit the UK's fastest growing. Sales grew by £14.7 million in the last year to reach £26.2 million, according to information from retail analysts Taylor Nelson Sofres.

The huge boom in popularity follows recent publicity from dieticians and scientists, who have hailed the fruit as one of nature's superfoods.

Last summer scientists from the US Agricultural Research Service revealed that a compound found in blueberries called pterostilbene, similar to resveratrol, could be as effective as a widely used synthetic drug in reducing cholesterol.

Another study on rats has shown that when fed blueberries, they experienced less brain cell loss and improved recovery of movement following a stroke. The fruit has also been shown to protect against memory loss and have cancer-fighting properties.

All of these studies have however only been done in animals, but the success of the fruit in the UK demonstrates the British consumer's hunger for functional foods and the trend for healthy eating.

"Our sales have nearly quadrupled since a run of newspaper and magazine articles hailed blueberries as one of nature's wonder foods capable of helping protect the body against a wide range of ailments,"​ said Tesco blueberry buyer Andrew Gaunt.

Other 'superfoods', which are credited as having properties over and above those normally found in fresh fruit and vegetables, include garlic, broccoli and oily fish.

Blueberries also feature highly in the popular GI Diet that was launched across the UK in January. The regime recommends foods with slower sugar release.

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