New Zealand: Sun shining on blueberry season
November 27, 2013

New Zealand’s warm start to summer has ignited hope amongst sections of the country’s blueberry industry for a record crop this season, according to media reports.

With above average temperatures forecast until late December, Blueberries New Zealand chairman Dan Peach said the industry is well positioned to build on growing consumer interest in the category, which saw New Zealand supermarket sales rise 36.3 per cent in the 12 months to May 2013.

Peach said the industry would also look to increase its presence on the global stage, after exports jumped from 850 tonnes in 2012 to over 1000 tonnes in 2013.

“The sun heats the soil, which makes the plant ripen and helps increase the fruit yield,” Peach told Scoop Media.

“At the same time, the warmer weather we’ve been enjoying turns the acid into sugar and creates an even sweeter flavour. Across the country, growers are reporting that their harvests are amongst the biggest and best they can remember.”

Despite Peach’s optimism, some New Zealand growers are forecasting slightly more modest production volumes this season.

John Scott of leading grower-marketer-exporter Gourmet Group New Zealand said a number of plantations were still feeling the effects of last season’s drought, with production more likely to be in line with last year’s crop of around 1,800 tonnes.

“We understand the national crop may be only similar volume or slightly down compared to last year due to some orchards being challenged for water at certain times last summer,” Scott said.