By Paola Ochoa, AgTools
Blueberries, native to North America, have been consumed by Native American populations for thousands of years. In 1911, the first commercial blueberry plantation was established in New Jersey. Still, it was in the 1930s that the fruit’s popularity as a food and recognition for its health benefits began to increase.
Although blueberries are not traditionally associated with Hispanic cuisine, their versatility has led to their inclusion in various culinary preparations. These include desserts, sauces and dressings, jams, salads, beverages, and even as an accompaniment to certain cheeses. In addition, blueberries have become a popular snack, especially among the family’s youngest members.
Blueberries are a highly beneficial fruit for health due to their remarkable antioxidant content. These compounds reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and thanks to their high fiber content, they also promote a healthy digestive system. In addition, several studies suggest that blueberries may improve cognitive function and protect against age-related decline. Their consumption may also be beneficial for controlling blood sugar levels.
Related Article: Berries Conquer The Hispanic Consumer In The United States
Trade and Production of Blueberries
The United States traded 650 million pounds of blueberries during the first nine months of 2022. However, in 2023, the number of units sold decreased to 619 million pounds, representing a drop of 4.88%. This decline was observed mainly in August and September.
During August and September, Peru has traditionally been recognized as the leading supplier of blueberries to the United States. However, its export volume has decreased significantly by 59% this year compared to 2022.
The decrease in the export volume of Peruvian blueberries has been mainly attributed to the effects of the El Niño phenomenon in the region. During April, the Lambayeque region, one of the main producing areas of this fruit, recorded average temperatures of 81° Fahrenheit, while in the year 2022, the maximum temperatures reached in that same period were 73° F. This increase in temperatures affected the growth of the fruit, which was in the development stage to be harvested at the beginning of August.
In addition, the state of Oregon has seen a reduction in its production from 42 million pounds in 2022 to 28 million pounds in 2023, representing a 32% decrease in the last year. It is necessary to highlight that the season in this region covers the months of June to August.
The drop in the volume of blueberries traded in the last months of the year compared to 2022 has resulted in a higher price for Peruvian blueberries in the port of Philadelphia this September, reaching more than $50 per box when, in 2022, the maximum cost was $28.
A Blueberry Boom
The trade of blueberries in the United States experienced sustained growth from 2010 to 2022, increasing significantly from 360 million to 887 million pounds.
This increase in U.S. blueberry consumption is attributed to a combination of factors, including growing health awareness, consistent year-round availability of blueberries, product diversification, and promotion of their multiple benefits.
This chart shows that nine regions within the United States and six countries in the Americas supplied fruit to ensure that the end consumer continued to enjoy this fruit throughout the year 2022.
The growing trend toward healthy eating and the search for natural and nutritious food options has increased the popularity of blueberries, making them a popular choice for those following balanced diets and looking for fresh, healthy ingredients!
Therefore, we can expect the rise in the price of blueberries to continue for some time and will be related to factors such as quality and availability.