Super sweet strawberries hit supermarket shelves

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Costa Berries Tasmania in partnership with Driscoll’s Australia is undertaking a commercial trial of a new super sweet strawberry variety, Driscoll’s Zara.

Costa Berries Tasmania Regional Manager Cameron Folder said: “The Zara variety of strawberry has been in production at our East Devonport strawberry farm as an on-farm commercial trial since the start of our berry season.”

Marketed as “Driscoll’s Sweetest Batch”, the strawberry is a premium variety that delivers a sweeter and stronger flavour.

It was first commercialised in the United Kingdom in 2017 and has won several international awards due to its taste and quality.

Internationally, Driscoll’s Zara is sold as a premium variety in Europe, the Middle East, Canada and China.

Zara consistently scores better in quality tests for its appearance, taste, and texture.

Costa currently has close to one hectare of land under production of the Driscoll’s Zara variety with discussions under way to expand production on Costa’s strawberry farms and other Driscoll’s growers’ farms in North and North West Tasmania.

As a commercial trial, limited quantities of “Sweetest Batch” strawberries can be purchased from Woolworths supermarkets in larger urban centres in Hobart and Launceston. They are also sold interstate through a small number of Coles and Woolworths stores in Victoria.

The trial also extends to a select number of Sydney market agents for the independent sector.

“Production of the Zara strawberry represents an exciting opportunity for Tasmania’s berry industry,” Mr Folder said.

As a premium variety, there is potential to add value to the state’s berry crop and continue the industry’s growth as a significant contributor to Tasmania’s export income.

A report produced by Deloitte Access Economics, ‘The economic contribution of the Tasmanian fresh produce sector’ in December 2020, estimated the Tasmanian berry industry as worth around $200 million per annum; greater than the apple and cherry industry combined.

Costa is the largest producer of berries in Tasmania. At peak harvest this season, Costa employed over 560 locals injecting more than $1 million in wages on a weekly basis into the local economy.

The business also invests over $44 million in local goods and services each year, indirectly supporting hundreds of other local jobs.