New Zealanders are devouring an additional one million punnets of blueberries every year and our renewed focus on maintaining good health will likely see sales skyrocket again this summer.
New grocery statistics show we consumed a record 8 million punnets of blueberries last year worth over $30 million – a 1.1 million punnet increase (or 15.2%) on the 2019/20 blueberry season. An almost identical rise was recorded the year before, confirming a huge surge in popularity for the humble blueberry.
Blueberries New Zealand Chairman Dan Peach attributes that success to a number of factors including the fruit’s high-profile partnership with Olympian Eliza McCartney who has been their ambassador for the past five years.
But he also predicts our 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. 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 is now underway and people shouldn’t underestimate their small size. “They contain higher antioxidant levels than just about every other fruit and vegetable,” Dan explains. “They’re low in calories, high in nutrients, and will help improve your mood.”
The flavonoid, anthocyanin, gives blueberries their colour and is the antioxidant with the greatest impact against free-radical damage. Antioxidants in blueberries slow down the brain’s aging process, therefore delaying mental decline. They are also anti-inflammatory and inflammation is the key driver of all chronic disease.
“Blueberries pack a real punch with the positive effect they have on gut health, anti-aging, brain function and can lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Blueberries can also assist with memory, particularly in children, as foods rich in flavonoids help with cognitive brain function.
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 our 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. 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.”