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New KTP appointment to develop possibilities of honeyberries

Honeyberries KTP associate Ruari Macleod (c) James Hutton Institute
"Our aim is to identify the best varieties of honeyberry and develop products around which we can build the Scottish Honeyberry brand"

A new Knowledge Transfer Partnership involving the James Hutton Institute, its commercial subsidiary James Hutton Limited and the newly launched Scottish Honeyberry Cooperative aims to create a new ‘superfruit’ industry in Scotland and turn the country into a world leader in the cultivation and processing of honeyberries.

Due to their agronomic qualities such as winter hardiness, frost, and pest and disease resistance, honeyberries (Lonicera caerulea) have the potential to become the ‘fifth’ berry amongst the commercially grown fruits in Scotland after strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

However, since the crop has not been previously grown commercially in Scotland, its understanding in terms of agronomic requirements is limited. That is set to change with the appointment of young scientist Ruari MacLeod as Knowledge Transfer Partnership associate.

A graduate from the University of Dundee, Ruari has experience in biological and chemical laboratories and has been trained in a variety of techniques in molecular biology and chemical and mineral analyses.

Commenting on the KTP initiative, Ruari said: “I see this project as an exciting opportunity to be involved in such a multifaceted project. My work so far has been focussed mainly in academic research, whereas for this project we will apply our findings directly in a commercial setting.

“Our aim is to identify the best varieties of honeyberry and develop products around which we can build the Scottish Honeyberry brand. Whilst I'll be relying on my scientific knowledge to help establish our understanding of the honeyberries as a crop, I'll also be able to develop new skills in market research and product development.”

Dr Dorota Jarret, a fruit breeder at James Hutton Limited and lead academic supporting the project, added: “We aim to generate a step change in the Scottish fruit industry by providing a new crop and derived products and diversifying growing opportunities, increasing the fruit growing area in Scotland and the UK.

“The challenge will be to prove production to be economically relevant, stable, reliable and of a superior quality and provenance to other honeyberry fruit that might influence future markets through import channels. Sharing existing knowledge and developing new expertise is essential, particularly considering variations in size, quality, environment pressures and growing capacities.”

Dr Jarret is one of a few researchers in the UK to have trialled honeyberries, and in 2016 carried out a nutritional analysis of the crop, comparing it to other commercially established fruits grown in Scotland.

The Scottish Honeyberry Cooperative, led by local farmer Stewart Arbuckle, was formed in response to the increasing interest of growing honeyberries in Scotland and aims to establish healthy orchards to produce premium frozen fruit and honeyberry wine, and at the same time explore other income streams such as agritourism and the provision of advisory services.

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Printed from /news/new-ktp-appointment-develop-possibilities-honeyberries on 24/02/24 05:41:36 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.