US –  The United States has undergone a monumental transformation in its blueberry industry, marked by a staggering surge in fresh blueberry imports, according to a recent USDA report.

In a span of two decades, imports have skyrocketed from 44 million pounds to a whopping 450 million pounds, revealing a 62% increase and reshaping the country’s blueberry landscape.

“This surge in imports reflects a monumental shift in the market,” says the USDA report. “Factors like technological advancements, new varieties, and increased planting acreage have fueled a growing demand for blueberries in the US, propelling both domestic production and imports.”

The report sheds light on the evolving preferences and market destinations for different types of blueberries. Highbush blueberries cater primarily to the fresh market, while lowbush varieties are geared toward processing.

Despite the seasonal expansion of domestic production, there’s a notable scarcity of US blueberries during late fall and early spring. “This seasonality drives prices up, especially during low-supply periods,” notes the report.

To capitalize on this demand, producers strategically increase production during these times, buoyed by varietal plantings that extend the market supply.

To address the scarcity, imports have surged, ensuring more consistent availability of fresh blueberries during off-peak seasons.

Consequently, this influx has helped stabilize prices, moderating the noticeable seasonal price differences observed in recent years.

“The market dynamics are shifting, influencing both production strategies and consumer access to fresh blueberries,” outlines the USDA report, painting a comprehensive picture of the industry’s transformation.

In another report by Blueberries Consulting, Blueberry volumes are finally increasing in the North American market.

El Niño affected a large amount of Peruvian fruit that would normally have been shipped to the US in October or November.

“Better conditions in markets in Asia and Europe also attracted shipments that would normally have ended up in the US,” reads the report.

However, the volume being shipped to North America is improving and is expected to continue through February-March. Argentina began its shipments in mid-October and will finish in a few weeks.

Very small volumes are already arriving from Chile. Starting in the second week of December, the offer will be reinforced until the holidays. Mexico is also shipping blueberries primarily to the southeast and southwest regions.

“Demand has remained strong and prices are approximately USD 15 to USD 20 higher than this time last year,” outlines the report. “Normally, at this time of year, the market is very tight and demand and prices experience sharp declines as Chilean imports increase and Peru reaches its peak.”

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