White berries cause a stir with Mzansi strawberry aficionados, here’s what you need to know about them

Florida Pearl Strawberries. Picture: Supplied

Florida Pearl Strawberries. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 11, 2023


Have white berries with red seeds and the occasional blush of pink popped up on your social feed or even your local farmer’s market? You may see more of this eye-catching fruit in the near future.

First identified in South America around 2002, white strawberries crossed over to the South African market only recently. The fruit is still considered a luxury, with a price tag to prove it.

These strawberries – which have a distinctive white flesh, dark red seeds, and white to light-pink skin – are a first for South Africans, and shoppers’ are expressing their reactions all over social media.

Social media users expressed a mix of surprise, excitement, horror, and satisfaction with the new variety, which Woolworths is marketing as ‘Florida Pearl Strawberries’ on its packaging.

Shoppers seem to either be fascinated by them or do not quite know what to make of this odd colour masking a traditionally red berry.

In an interview with IOL, the brand said the variety was developed by cross-breeding traditional Japanese white strawberries with traditional Florida red strawberry varieties until the desired yield, size, and quality were achieved with a product that could be commercially farmed and that they are non-genetically modified.

“The variety has been in development for the past eleven years, versions of the current variety have been grown in the US for the last five years, and launched in Europe in 2022 and SA in 2023.

“We decided to bring these into the market to offer a point of difference, to highlight the exceptional skill of the breeders and their dynamic varieties, and of course to create some excitement for strawberries as a category.

“The fruit is produced like traditional strawberries, but with unique management protocols,” the team said.

Selling for R50 for 250g, the team also highlighted that, “the fruit is sweet, with a slightly softer texture than traditional strawberries.

It has a unique taste profile, it has a low acid sweet flavour reminiscent of a red strawberry with a unique finish – in tasting, it was noted that it had an almost tropical taste with hints of pineapple, apricot and or pear.”

Judging by people’s responses, white strawberries are a new one for many people - or at least, they are newer.

White strawberries have only been in mainstream supermarkets for a few years. Before that, they were relegated to high-end restaurant menus and luxury fruit markets in some parts of the world.

Now that white strawberries are showing up in supermarkets like Woolworths you may be curious to know what they are and why they are white.

No, they are not unripe strawberries. White strawberries are what the name suggests - strawberries that just happen to be white, not red. White strawberries have red seeds and green stems, but they are lacking the ruby-red luster of the traditional fruit.

According to reports, the special colour is achieved by a careful cultivation method that reduces its exposure to light, hence inhibiting the development of the typical red of strawberries.

If the light is restricted, about ten percent of the berries turn out entirely white, while the rest end up with pink or red spots.

You can read the latest Food digimag here.

Related Topics: