U.S.: Blueberry industry aims for 1 billion mark
June 28, 2016
U.S. blueberry production could approach 1 billion pounds in the next three years.
A projected 940 million pounds will be grown in 2019, up from 750.2 million pounds in 2015, according to the Folsom, Calif.-based U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.
Production in 2016 will likely surpass 750 million pounds again, and worldwide production could top 1.4 billion pounds, according to a news release.
Soaring demand for blueberries will continue to mean increased U.S. production, according to the council. From 2010 to 2015, per-capita consumption in North America increased by almost 50%.
Also, Americans polled in 2013 said they were almost twice as likely as they were in 2004 to buy blueberries in the coming year, and 84% said they were aware of blueberries’ health benefits, up 115% from 2004.
In 2015, fresh retail sales of blueberries in the U.S. totaled nearly $1.5 billion, up 7% from 2014 and making them the No. 2 berry seller behind strawberries.
As U.S. blueberry production grows, exports will continue to grow, according to the council. About 10% of the U.S. crop is exported, with more than 79 million pounds shipping to other countries in 2015, up 60% from 2005.
The council said it will work hard in coming years to expand exports to existing markets and to open access to countries where U.S. blueberries currently can’t be shipped, including Australia, Chile, China, the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea and Vietnam.
California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington are the top blueberry-producing states in the U.S.
The Packer