Bilberries, lingonberries and cloudberries. The Swedish and Finnish berries are so high in demand that many Thais are travelling to Scandinavia for more supplies. According to NPR.org 1060 Thai farmers and fishermen were recruited to pick the popular Nordic berries.
They are right now the most popular ones in the East Asian beauty industry and while the beloved berries are used in jam in Scandinavia, East Asians wants them in their beauty products. The berries are known for being good for effective anti-wrinkle treatment. They are a source of an acid called ellagic. Back in 2009 a South Korean study showed that the powerful antioxidant content found in the acid prevented collagen destruction and inflammatory response typically associated with photo-ageing or from environmental influences such as UV rays.
Ellagic acid can be derived from other fruits and nuts too, but this particular study from South Korea was the first concrete scientific study highlighting the benefits of ellagic acid. The acid is found in highest concentrations in berries such as bilberries. The East Asian beauty industry uses the berries in anti-aging products, and East Asians are increasingly aware of the positive effects. In 2012 alone, Finland exported the equivalent of 18 blue whales in weight of fresh bilberries to Japan, reported Export Finland.
Because the berry picking season is the same time as the monsoons in Thailand, Thai people travel to Scandinavia to get supplies to keep up with the high demand.
“There is not so much to do, so it’s the perfect time for them to fly over to Sweden or Finland and work here for berry-picking,” says Juha Ruohola, CEO of Polarica, a Swedish berry supplier.