Reducing waste and beating COVID at Blue Aurora

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Pictured: Blue Aurora founder Rachel Templeton
Pictured: Blue Aurora founder Rachel Templeton

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Rachel Templeton, founder of blueberry wine producer Blue Aurora, spoke with Food Manufacture about reducing food waste and finding success despite the COVID-19 pandemic in this exclusive podcast.

Speaking at this year’s Speciality & Fine Food Festival, Templeton explained the decision to create blueberry wine was born from a desire to craft a product from the produce retailers were not willing to buy.

“Because the supermarkets are wanting the larger, firmer fruits, what we’re actually using for our English blueberry wine is a slighter smaller, softer fruit – still great quality, but not what the supermarkets are looking for,”​ she said.

“That’s why we’ve diversified and tried to reduce food waste on the farm and that’s where the heart of Blue Aurora began.”

Traditional wine making methods

Northamptonshire-based Blue Aurora produces a range of fruit wines made from blueberries grown onsite and made using traditional grape wine techniques without any concentrates or mixed with grape juice.  

Outside of wine, the family farm was still on the lookout for new developments in blueberry growing to meet demand.

“We’re constantly looking at new blueberry varieties. We’ve got some new varieties – one called crunch, one called grande – that are really large fruit, really crunchy,” ​Templeton continued.

It’s always about looking for the next best blueberry for the fresh market, but also considering what’s going to work really well for the range of English wines.”

Export success

Outside of the UK, Blue Aurora has seen success in the US and Canada where the market for blueberry wines is much bigger, thanks to a much larger blueberry industry in general.

“Fruit wines are starting to increase, so it would be interesting to see what happens with the market,”​ Templeton added.

Many businesses across the food and drink industry felt the sting of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures enacted to curb its spread, the worst of which being the mass closure of pubs and clubs. Luckily, Blue Aurora was well placed to circumvent these challenges.

“We launched last year and only produced a small amount – we really scaled up in 2020 when COVID hit,”​ said Templeton. “We were fortunate that we had always planned to create our website so we could sell online, but we did miss talking to people, getting to consumer and trade events.

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