USDA: Demand for blueberries is growing and consumers seek to have this fruit all year round

Blueberries are the second most produced berries in the United States, after strawberries. Over the past 10 years, the total supply of fresh blueberries available for US consumption has increased fivefold. The availability of fresh blueberries to US consumers has grown at a faster rate than that of fresh strawberries during that same time. Both US blueberry production and imports have increased rapidly to meet consumer demand throughout the year.

In 2010, New Jersey, Georgia and Michigan were the largest US producers of fresh blueberries for the domestic market, especially. Blueberries that are not intended for the processed market. California, Washington, and Florida were smaller producers. By 2019, the U.S. blueberry sector expanded as Georgia, California, and Oregon began to emerge as larger suppliers, each accounting for about 17 percent of U.S. blueberry production.

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service highlighted shipments of fresh blueberries from eight states in 2019: California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington.

 

 

Imports of fresh blueberries from the US have grown rapidly over the last decade; On average, the US imported 60 percent of the blueberries consumed during 2017-19, up from an average of 50 percent in 2010-12. In 2010, Chile was the main international supplier of fresh blueberries to the United States, and Peru and Mexico produced much smaller quantities of blueberries.

However, by 2019, Mexico and Peru began to increase their share of the US blueberry import market, for example, blueberry exports from Peru have grown exponentially in the last decade: by 2019, Peru had become the main supplier of blueberry imports to the US.

About 80 percent of U.S. blueberry imports in 2019 were sourced from three countries: Peru, Chile, and Mexico (see figure below). The increase in imports from these countries is probably the result of more cultivation of newer varieties and a larger acreage devoted to blueberries in relatively new blueberry producers, such as Peru and Mexico.

 

Onational and international date

In 2010, there was little overlap in US and foreign blueberry supplies to the domestic market, and the periods between seasons had higher prices. Since 2010, the domestic and foreign blueberry seasons have been extended. Imports from Mexico in early spring have increased, offsetting some of Chilean imports, while Florida and Georgia now harvest more in March and April. About 70 percent of import shipments in September and October 2019 were from Peru, increasing competition for growers in Michigan, Washington and Oregon, where shipments continue through October.

This increase in production and imports from the US has led to an increase in the supply of blueberries in the domestic market, and prices in the US, out of season, are now lower (see the figure below). Consequently, the overall price level in 2019 was lower, with smaller price increases in the early spring and fall months. The lower prices that occur as domestic supplies increase are ultimately benefiting American consumers.

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