The business potential for honeyberries to be marketed as a premium healthy food and as a source of income for farmers is being explored in a new innovation project.
Honeyberries are fruit of the honeysuckle and are high in antioxidants and vitamin C. They are similar to blueberries in taste and looks and can be eaten raw or used in jams and jellies.
Scottish Honeyberries Ltd is a newly established farming co-operative enterprise that grows and markets honeyberries – a new crop for Scotland.
It has been awarded £23,160 from the Collaborative Innovation Fund, operated by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Enterprise.
Led by Stewart Arbuckle from Arbuckle Farm near Dundee, Scottish Honeyberries was formed in response to the increasing interest in growing honeyberries in Scotland. It aims to establish orchards to produce premium frozen fruit and honeyberry wine.
Having secured the innovation funding, the co-operative is now working with land and crop researchers from the James Hutton Institute to research honeyberry crop types and their nutritional and commercial potential.
Stewart Arbuckle said: “We are collaborating with researchers to explore new types of soft fruits and their nutritional and commercial possibilities. Scotland’s climate is perfect for growing honeyberries so we are delighted to be awarded a grant to help us develop the market feasibility of honeyberries to add to Scotland’s booming business in strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.”
The £650,000 Collaborative Innovation Fund is co-funded by HIE and Scottish Enterprise. It is primarily aimed at innovations in products, processes or business models leading to new growth in the food and drink sector.
In a separate project, Aberdeen based Inspectahire Instrument Co Ltd has been awarded £32,520 to develop a non-invasive technique for distilleries by using ultrasound to measure the level of whisky in a barrel.
The method used currently involves taking the barrel out of storage and removing a bung, so the level can be measured. This is more time and resource consuming and carries a risk of damaging the cask.
The company is working with Strathclyde University and the Scotch Whisky Research Institute to develop the innovative product.
Cailean Forrester, managing director of Inspectahire, said: “This innovation will enhance whisky production and support the ongoing growth of the sector as a key component of the Scottish industry.”
HIE is leading on the Collaborative Innovation Fund for the whole of Scotland. The organisation’s head of food and drink, Elaine Jamieson, said: “Innovation in food and drink is vital to enable Scotland’s businesses to respond to today’s consumer market. The fund supports food and drink businesses working on innovative projects to unlock new growth and increase competitiveness through new product development and process improvements.
“Experience and evidence tells us that partnership working between business and with academics and other innovation providers stimulates fresh thinking and opens new opportunities and we are delighted to award this funding to the first two projects.”
The Collaborative Innovation Fund is part of the national Make Innovation Happen (MIH) service. This supports food and drink businesses to prioritises innovation as critical to continued success in the sector. It is co-funded by Scottish Enterprise with support from Scotland Food & Drink. The MIH service can help businesses by providing support, advice and mentoring as well as funding through the MIH Collaborative Innovation Fund.
The fund awards £25k – £40k grant funding to companies working together towards addressing a key issue or opportunity with in the food and drink sector with potential to benefit businesses and the Scottish economy.