© Photo Courtesy of Star Produce/Just Picked Juliets
Grow Canada’s best-tasting strawberries. This is the simple yet incredibly challenging mission undertaken by the team of veteran growers at The Star Group’s greenhouse operations in Delta, B.C.
We’ve all had a similar experience at some point with strawberries: you take home a punnet of berries, wash and trim them, sit down, eager to dig in, and that first bite is met with…disappointment.
The fact is, many of the berries available in Canada, especially during the winter months, have to travel long distances to find their way onto our grocery store shelves. This means the prevailing berry varieties are often selected for hardiness rather than flavour.
Not so with the bright-red, super-sweet and extra-juicy berries The Star Group is producing from its greenhouse operations in British Columbia. The brand name for these premium berries is Just Picked Juliets, and only the best, brightest and sweetest berries are deemed worthy of the Juliets name.
Shipment of Juliets strawberries began in earnest in the 2022 summer season—but this did not come without tremendous effort. The 2022 crop marked the culmination of a five-year flavour journey that started with a tireless search for the world’s best strawberries. This search took the Just Picked growers to Israel, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and throughout the United States.
But finding the world’s best berries was only the beginning.
In winemaking, it is referred to as terroir: identical grapevines planted in different parts of the world will produce very different grapes due to differences in soil, climate and other environmental factors. Although Just Picked berries are not planted in the ground but rather in raised beds in a climate-controlled greenhouse, the concept is the same. Nuances in environmental factors and microclimates mean a variety of berry that produces incredible fruit in the South of France, for example, may deliver an entirely different result when planted in Canada.
Thus, many varieties were tested, many trials completed, and extensive research conducted. Through this process, the Just Picked team arrived at the Juliet: a richly red, sweet and tart berry that is perfectly adapted to the unique microclimate, mild winters, and cool ocean breezes of the lower mainland of B.C.
To say the berries have been well-received would be putting it mildly. Feedback from Canadian shoppers has been overwhelmingly positive—but the journey for the Just Picked growers is not over yet.
Just Picked Juliets are grown in state-of-the-art, climate-controlled greenhouses. This presents several advantages: for example, the facilities use far less water than field operations, and the plants are not sprayed with pesticides, unlike their outdoor-grown counterparts. Greenhouse growing also presents the next challenge and opportunity for the grower team: can they grow these premium strawberries in Canada 365 days a year?
The team is confident that they can, and that Canadian berry lovers can look forward to enjoying delicious, locally grown berries in spring, summer, fall and, yes—even during the Canadian winter.
To learn more about Juliets and The Star Group’s other fresh produce offerings, please visit justpicked.ca.
Just Picked Juliets
Just Picked is a part of The Star Group which includes brands such as Inspired Greens, Inspired Go, and Big Taste. Our goal is to be the most innovative team in produce.