Today, the forest berry value chain is long and international. Local berry picking and processing have almost disappeared and have instead been replaced by foreign berry pickers in collaboration with large wholesalers. There is a national market for forest berries, but to get this value chain to develop further we need to tackle a series of challenges.
To show that the berry industry can change, FAIRCHAIN has developed a special app. The app was developed by RISE to be used for mapping berry fields and, via digital models made by SLU, we can help berry pickers predict which areas have a high yield of berries.
During the first part of 2022, FAIRCHAIN also devoted itself to finding partners who want to do tests with picking, cleaning and selling berries, in a new concept that we call “Bär-i-bygden” (Berries in the Village). The purpose of Bär-i-Bygden is to engage with the local population in Bjurholm, a small municipality in northern Sweden. The idea is to use Bjurholm as a kind of geographically limited demo site to test how we can create co-learning and engagement around berries. In September, we organized a berry festival in Bjurholm.
The aim was to get more people to see the possibilities with our wild berries, to create more cooperation in the area and, in this way, bring more creative product development around berries and berry processing. Over 400 people participated in the event.
Text and Image contributed by Alexander Walhberg, RISE
Also known as European blueberries, Swedish blåbär is the most abundant berry in Sweden. They’re not the same as their North American counterparts; European blueberries are slightly smaller, have less sugar and are a deep crimson color inside. European blueberry bushes are found all over Sweden and cover close to 20% of the land. They’re also consumed in large quantities as a European blueberry soup (blåbärssoppa) during Vasaloppet, the oldest cross-country ski race in the world.
Within the FAIRCHAIN Swedish case study, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden and researchers at SLU – Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Umeå developed a special App for mapping the forests and for creating guiding maps for the berry pickers.
By: Roger Uddstål, RISE
The forest berry value chain is long and international. In Sweden, local berry picking has almost disappeared and been replaced by foreign berry pickers in collaboration with large wholesalers. There is a local market for wild forest berries, and more local value chains could be created if important obstacles can be overcome. One such obstacle for the berry-pickers is to find the berries in sufficient amounts.
FAIRCHAIN collaborates with RISE and researchers at SLU in Umeå to create knowledge that will make it easier for less experienced pickers to find the best places to pick. A special App has been developed that will be used for mapping the forests and for creating guiding maps for the pickers. The first test of the App was carried out during summer 2021 in an area south of Umeå. Now the information from the survey will be processed to create general models to predict where to find the berries.
During the autumn of 2021, the project will develop strategies for the coming years on how to demonstrate the potential of the App and how it can support an intermediate value chain. We are looking for partners who want to be involved in picking, cleaning, and selling berries in a new value chain. During the autumn, we will start investigating whether we can find a good location for a pilot study.
Participants representing the wild berry companies, public sector and universities come together to better understand the problems and opportunities of wild berry production in the north of Sweden, and set up goals for development of value chain. Visit the dedicated page for more information about the Swedish case study.