Scotland is well-known for its strong soft fruit sector. Scotland’s production of raspberries and strawberries has nearly doubled in the past decade, primarily due to strawberries. In 2016, 73% of the overall value of soft fruit was based on strawberries accounting for £84 million. Scottish soft fruit farmers produce 2,900 tonnes of raspberries annually and a substantial 25,000 tonnes of strawberries.
The soft fruit sector is extremely important to Scotland, but labour shortages threatens to slow its growth. The strawberry harvest is highly labour-intensive, of which many workers come from other EU states, labour shortages could occur that have a major impact on the strawberries. Similar issues are occurring in California, where tough immigration polices mean a decrease of hard-working workers.
Innovations are being developed to replace traditional strawberry farming and harvesting. Hand-picking robots could be a solution to make the strawberry sector in Scotland more efficient in long-term.