Recently released grocery statistics have revealed New Zealanders consumed a record 8m punnets of blueberries last year, a 1.1m punnet increase (or 15.2 per cent) on the 2019/20 blueberry season.
Blueberries New Zealand believes a renewed focus from consumers in maintaining good health will likely see sales skyrocket again this summer.
Sales topped NZ$30m last season, with an almost identical rise in consumption recorded the year before, confirming a huge surge in popularity for the fruit.
Blueberries New Zealand chairman Dan Peach (pictured) attributes the fruits’ popularity to a number of factors including the high-profile partnership with Olympian Eliza McCartney who has been their ambassador for the past five years.
But he also predicts New Zealander’s Covid-19 lockdown experience will likely push sales up even further this summer.
“In my opinion, people have genuinely reconnected with real food this year, particularly fruit and vegetables,” said Peach. “At the beginning of lockdown, people were worried about food security and whether they could get enough of what they needed – we saw long queues at supermarkets, and sales of fruit and vegetable plants at garden centres have since gone crazy. People are planting in their own back yard to ensure supply.”
“Blueberry sales will certainly benefit from that trend, as people focus on the health benefits of what they’re eating and look to increase their consumption of superfoods, such as blueberries.”
New Zealand’s main blueberry season has started, and consumers are being encouraged not to underestimate the smaller sized fruit.
“They contain higher antioxidant levels than just about every other fruit and vegetable,” Peach explained. “They’re low in calories, high in nutrients, and will help improve your mood.”
Around 60 per cent of New Zealand’s annual blueberry crop is exported to Australia and Asia, and growers expect international demand will be stronger than ever thanks to the country’s clean, green reputation and effective Covid-19 response.
“Demand looks to be really strong internationally this year, and a hot, dry summer will produce exceptionally good berries,” said Peach.
“We’re confident New Zealanders will continue their love of blueberries and find ways to consume even more this coming season. There will be plenty of punnets on supermarket shelves between now and March, so enjoy them while you can,” he concluded.