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Bilberry - Towards functional food markets

  • Published 09/03/2011
Wild berries are a characteristic part of the Northern nature. Wild berries are also a rich and valuable resource that has not yet been exploited in a satisfactory level.


From 01/05/2007
To 31/12/2010

Approximately 90–95 per cent of the whole wild berry crop yield is left unpicked in the Nordic forests every year. The challenges of the wild berry utilization are similar in Nordic countries - the logistics of berry picking including traceability, fragmented sector structure and the high share of unprocessed raw material in export.

The Nordic project focusing on bilberry; “Bilberry: Towards functional food markets” was a part of the New Nordic Food programme funded by the Nordic Innovation Centre. The goal was to enhance cooperation and innovation among companies that utilize the natural resources in the Nordic countries. The aim of the project was to improve wild berry production and utilization in the Nordic and global market. To achieve this goal a network between the Nordic experts presenting the different fields of the wild berry sector were established.

The project focused on marketing research, quality issues, biodiversity and authenticity of wild berries, especially bilberry. The aim of the marketing survey was to gather information of companies working with wild berries in the Nordic countries and to evaluate their willingness to cooperate in wild berry supply, logistics, marketing or research and development. The results of the marketing survey were presented in Nordic Wild Berry seminar in November 2008. Accordingly, a general agreement for the need of increased cooperation at the Nordic level was highlighted.

During the project, new information on the effect of northern growth conditions on quality of bilberries was achieved. The results show that the berries growing in the north contain more antioxidants compared to the southern berry clones. The higher antioxidant content in northern berry clones is due both the climate and the genetic adaptation.