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Angus Soft Fruits Still Going Berry Strong at Thirty

Berry specialist Angus Soft Fruits is celebrating 30 years of business success this year.

And one exciting development in 2024 is the launch of two new premium raspberry varieties from the in-house breeding programme.

Angus Soft Fruits was established in 1994 by three passionate growers – Lochy Porter, his father Willie and cousin James Gray.

Their ambition was to sell their fruit directly to retailers and continually improve the product.

The Arbroath business has expanded through working with soft-fruit producer organisation Angus Growers and collaborations with more than 50 like-minded growers globally to allow year-round supply.

Chairman Lochy explained how things have changed over the years.

He said: “The season used to last six weeks in the summer, and now we grow berries from late March to December.

“We have always focused on innovation.  In the late 1990s, we introduced polytunnels to protect crops and then, in the early 2000s, table tops which are easier to pick than on the ground.

“We supply to several UK supermarkets, food service and wholesale outlets.  We also supply fruit to European retailers and export fruit to retailers in the Middle East and Asia.”

Lochy told how the berry industry is going through a challenging period.

“There are many contributing factors such as Brexit, Covid, inflation, the cost-of-living crisis, as well as fuel costs and labour costs both increasing,” he added.

So what are the chairman’s expectations for Angus Soft Fruits for 2024?

He said: “We are thrilled to be launching two new premium raspberry varieties from our in-house breeding programme.

“They are named AVA Monet and AVA Dali, as they are works of art.

“We concentrate on raising the bar in terms of quality and the innovative development of new varieties and improving our efficiencies.

“We have a talented team of berry specialists – many have been with us for more than 10 years and some for over 20 years.  We are a dedicated, passionate group of berry specialists.”

Lochy said the Angus Soft Fruits breeding programme is focused on the development of new or improved varieties of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, tailored for diverse international markets.

He continued: “Our specialist breeding team uses a combination of traditional and advanced techniques to improve the flavour, appearance, shelf-life, disease resistance and yield of our berries.

“Our journey began in 2003 with the groundbreaking release of our first AVA strawberry – the first UK-grown premium strawberry variety and we have continued to produce outstanding AVA varieties.

“These are grown across the world to satisfy the demand of retailers in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

“All varieties bred by the Angus Soft Fruits breeding programme are prefixed with our AVA trademark.

“This helps to differentiate our premium selection of berries from other varieties.”

The chairman said the mission of Angus Soft Fruits is to deliver great-tasting berries that will delight customers each and every day.

“We shall continue to innovate and challenge the status quo,” he said.

“We work efficiently, collaboratively and excel in every area of our business.

“We approach innovative technologies with curiosity and, above all, we act with integrity.  We strive to keep improving our product and our services.

“Most of all, we want to grow highly-nutritional, delicious Scottish berries.”

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