Berry good show | Breakthrough Funding

Friday, August 23, 2019

Berry good show

With its complex innovations around strawberry production, this producer is the cream of the crop

Nothing says summertime like strawberries and cream – one certainly can’t attend Wimbledon without it! However, making sure that consumers continue to enjoy their favourite fruity treat means the industry has to engage in constant innovation.

With eight sets of chromosomes, compared to humans’ two, the strawberry is a pretty complex fruit. This means that the possibilities for developing delicious new breeds are almost infinite – 30,000 unique new breeds could be produced in one year alone.

However, new breeds of soft fruit must be commercially viable and it can take several years to establish that. One UK producer decided to work on developing a better, more cost-effective and time-efficient way to identify viable breeds as soon as possible. This would enable them to discount non-viable breeds earlier in the process, before the costly large-scale testing phase began.

Efficiency improvements needed to be focused on the ease of picking, yield, quality and pest resistance. Any new solution would also need to go beyond breed quality and take into account optimum growing conditions, growing methods, propagation and stock development.

So began a significant R&D period for the team, during which they worked on process efficiency and growth systems, using earlier application of quality indicators.

Large-scale testing is now better controlled and the team can assess the suitability of different growing methods as part of that. With a new first-year high help progagation process, the team can now assess breeds for commercial viability earlier.

This continuing project qualified for R&D tax relief – or ‘cash for innovation’ as we call it. If you’re working on improving efficiencies or quality in your food production, get in touch with us and see if you could qualify for R&D tax relief too.

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