These berries are grown commercially in 21 countries but over 90% of global production occurs in Europe, mainly Poland.
The world commodity production averages around 180,000 tons. Two-thirds of the crop is processed into concentrated juice. Other markets include fresh and frozen fruit and blackcurrant-based extracts and ingredients for the agrifood industry, medicinal and food supplement uses and the perfumery industry.
Production in most of the main commercial growing countries is stable or falling slightly. The EU’s Minor Uses Fund improves access to pesticides. New cultivars are higher-yielding and allow mechanical harvesting. Organic production is on the increase in many countries.
The sector is plagued by recurrent overproduction and rollercoaster pricing, particularly in fruit for concentrated juice processing, but new product breakthroughs such as sports powders and health foods are likely to bring an upturn in demand and prices.
Blackcurrants have a high vitamin C and anthocyanin content and antioxidant capacity and recent research has also pointed to a role in digestive and visual health and in inhibiting or reducing the effects of cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease.
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IBA (MLC’s telephone interview;news items and 2014 conference papers at theIBA website),
the Blackcurrant Foundation (www.blackcurrantfoundation.co.uk)
Blackcurrant image: www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=19552 (Licence: Public Domain CC0 1.0)