London, August 12:

Claims of health benefits feed the public’s taste for a once humble fruit It is blue, bursting with goodness and might just be the future of British farming. The once humble blueberry is quickly becoming a cash crop as farmers gear up to meet soa-ring demand for the ‘superfood’.

Two years ago a clutch of almost breathlessly enthusiastic health studies revealed that the fruit was packed with so much goodness and vitamins that blueberries achieved almost mythic status among foodies and nutritionists. Once seen as little more than a perfunctory pie filling, the berry has become Britain’s most fashionable fruit.

That phenomenal increase in demand has led to a trebling of growers in the past two years, as blueberries have established themselves as a realistic commercial venture for farmers. Retail analyst AC Nielsen reports that, in the 12 months to May 2005, Britons spent £40 million a year on the fruit.