'Most people don't know what a haskap berry is': Sask. growers aim to increase local demand for 'superfood' fruit
SASKATOON -- Saskatchewan haskap farmers are shifting their focus to local consumers after having no luck selling the berries abroad.
Curtis Braaten owns Haskap Central Sales and sells propagated plants. He also has a haskap orchard.
He said the berry also still hasn’t caught on among North Americans since farmers began growing haskaps in Saskatchewan about 15 years ago
“Most people don't know what a haskap berry is.”
He said Haskap Canada and fruit growers are working to educate consumers.
“More and more consumers will be aware of it. And as time goes on, every year, there will be more production. So check out your local super market. Ask the produce manager, do you have any haskaps berries? Educate them and it's only a matter of time until we have them out every season.”
Haskaps are considered a "superfood" because it is high in flavonoids, polyphenols, and Vitamin C. Haskaps are 87 percent juice and have small seeds so they are easily incorporated into a wide variety of products.
Braaten said the berries are easy to grow in the Saskatchewan and Alberta, as they grow wild in cooler northern climates across Canada.
Haskaps have very few pests resulting in no need to spray insecticides.
The lack of demand for haskap berries prompted Saskatchewan farmer Kanden Yungwirth to join the North 49 Fruit Corporation.
It’s made up of 13 farmers who develop and sell what they grow as finished products in stores.
“We have some products that we're developing. We have a topping and stand-up pouches of berries. We partnered with some ice cream companies in Alberta. The Co-op Pure Gold label has a haskap rhubarb jam.”
Yungwirth planted 31,000 haskap plants and one day hopes to make a living from haskap farming. He estimates he will harvest between 6,000 to 10,000 pounds of berries this year.
“I'd love to see it being not shipped anywhere, just being consumed all locally. We grow it here. I'd like to see everyone enjoying it and getting more producers in the game.”