Soloberry receive green light in effort to list Haskap berries as traditional food
Since 2015 Soloberry Limited has been heavily involved in the development of bringing the haskap berry to market in Europe. Haskap, also known as Blue Honeysuckle or Honeyberry, is shaped like a rectangle blueberry, and tastes like a cross between a blueberry, blackberry and raspberry. Its unique flavour means it is ideal for the processing sector, in the form of relishes, jam or juices, but there is also potential in fresh.
Having first reported in Fresh Produce Journal in 2015 as working on new berry under previous name of CPM Retail Ltd, the team at Soloberry, hoped to have Haskap on the shelves by June of 2016. However, as part of their standard due diligence process, investigation led to a realisation that this would be more difficult than they first thought. In late 2015, it came to light through a government body, that the Haskap berry or Blue Honeysuckle as it is also known was perhaps a new food and therefore should be listed under the Novel Foods Act before it could be sold in Europe.
Soloberry have been successfully selling Haskap outside of Europe and we have had increasing interest from as far afield as Japan. Demand has grown in Europe to both grow and buy Haskap. We have grower partners in Scotland, Poland, and Germany and have conducted trials in other parts of the UK and Spain with interest in Canada, Europe and Japan for sales.
We have worked hard proactively developing the Haskap industry in Poland, headed by Import Technical Development Manager, Piotr Janus, which has led to partnering with major growers in the country.
“We have taken time to really understand the product and to set standards and a specification with highly professional growers. In line with Soloberry’s business strategy, of fully partnering with the best growers we have initiated long term supply contracts and have focused our efforts to bring this product to market” Piotr Janus.
Changes to legislation in January this year meant that Soloberry could finally proceed with their notification to classify the Haskap berry under a traditional food under Regulations EU 2015/2283.
The team at Soloberry have undertaken intensive research and investigation in order to be able to submit a dossier and seek approval to be able to sell the berry with the EU. This research involving delving into the Haskap’ s past with consumption records in Japan as early as 1920.
Within their dossier Soloberry clearly showed that Japanese Agriculture at Hokkaido Island has been proactively involved in managing the cooperative system of growers, logistics and sellers of haskap berry for over 25 years. This evidence strongly suggests that haskap berries have been found to be safe for consumption in Japan.
This paper has also demonstrated that haskap berries are as safe to produce as other berries currently on the EU market. Soloberry has embedded its food safety protocols in the recently created commercial farms in Poland, using the standards of its major European retail clients as a basis.
A technical report was published on 20th July on the European Food Safety Authority website confirming that:
“EFSA considers that the available data on composition and history of use on three L. caerulea varieties do not raise safety concerns. Considering the available data, EFSA does not raise safety objections to the placing on the market of the requested berries within the European Union.”
The Team at Soloberry now await final confirmation from European Commission in order to commence marketing the berries and are pleased with this outcome from EFSA.
The appeal of Haskap as a new berry on the market stems from its superfood credentials with higher levels of antioxidants than blueberries even wild blueberries, and for growers it’s the berries suitability for northern climates and providing a crop early in a growing season as well as the prestige of getting involved in something new and healthy for our future generations.
If you are interested in the Haskap berry as a grower or a buyer please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
You can read the full EFSA report here