Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz pledged on August 14 a monetary investment of more than $1,700,000 to bolster and market Canadian blueberries internationally. The announcement was made in Napan, New Brunswick.
The funds were given to the Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA), who say it will use the investment to help the sector access new foreign markets for its product - wild blueberries. According to the association, marketing campaigns are directed at several countries including the United States, European Union and East Asia to increase the sale of Canadian wild blueberries.
"Our Government is committed to growing demand for Canadian blueberries in foreign markets. Today's investment will grow our economy through increased production, more jobs in rural areas and a stronger processing industry in Canada,” Ritz said in a release.
Focus will be given to outreach initiatives targeted at trade representatives and consumers that are expected to occur through a series of events, including meetings, trade shows and incoming trade missions to Canada.
According to WBANA’s website, wild blueberries have twice the antioxidant capacity per serving of regular blueberries. Research is currently being conducted to examine the health benefits of eating wild blueberries, with areas of focus including - cancer, heart disease, diabetes and disease like Alzheimer’s.
The commodity group was formed in the 1980s to promote and market the sale of wild blueberries – Canada’s number one fruit export. It represents wild blueberry farmers and processors in Quebec and provinces in Atlantic Canada.
In 2013, wild blueberries generated almost $196 million in export sales. Interestingly, wild blueberry production has grown in recent years by $40 million to meet export demand.