Scotlands soft fruit farmers fear berries could rot in polytunnels due to a shortage of pickers coming from Eastern Europe, reports Glasgow based STV News.
Scottish growers blame post-Brexit costs and delays to visa paperwork for discouraging seasonal workers coming back to Scotland this year.
STV News said in previous years 75 per cent of seasonal workers coming from Europe would return to Scottish farms. But this year, the combination of Covid and
Brexit has resulted in workers travelling to other countries instead where there is less paperwork and less cost.
Berries continue to be one of the industry’s big success stories, with the category now worth over £1.7 billion and Brits buying no less than 239,243 tonnes of berries in the past year.
British raspberry volumes are expected to grow by almost 15 per cent this year after a recent spate of good weather heralded a strong start to the season.
The UK raspberry season is now in full swing and fruit is expected to be in plentiful supply thanks to favourable growing conditions in recent weeks.
Raspberry consumption continues to rise year on year thanks to improved consistency of supply, better availability from import sources, varietal development and rising purchase frequency. Sales were up 7.5 per cent in value and 5.7 per cent in volume in the 52 weeks to 16 May 2021.
During that period, Brits bought more raspberries than ever before, with value sales reaching £371 million and volume sales rising to 33,400 tonnes. That’s equivalent to 2,700 London double-decker buses.
As a combined category, berries now account for 26 per cent of total fruit sales in the UK, with a total value of £1.7 billion.