Health interest continues to drive blueberry demand and this increasing interest is encouraging increased worldwide blueberry production. Given production trends, industry efforts to encourage new and expanded use of blueberries are needed to keep demand ahead of supply. A “blue wave” of blueberries is rapidly approaching. World blueberry acreage from 1995 to 2010 has increased from just over 50,000 acres to nearly 190,000 acres. Though most of this growth has taken place in North and South America, other regions are also catching this “wave” and either expanding their acreage or are becoming new blueberry producers.
North America accounts for an estimated 57% of worldwide highbush blueberry acreage in 2010 followed by South America at 23%, Europe at 11% and the Asian and Pacific region at 8%. Northern and Southern Africa, along with the Mediterranean region, account for the remaining 1%. Though 57% of highbush acreage is found in North America the region produces 66% of the world’s supply of highbush blueberries. South America contributes 21% to the total followed by Europe at 11% and the remaining regions supply 2% of the world’s highbush blueberries.
North America remains by far the world leader in fresh and process highbush blueberry production accounting for an estimated 57% of the world’s fresh blueberries and 85% of process. By comparison, South America supplies 26% of the world’s fresh blueberries and 4% of process; Europe accounts for 13% of fresh and 7% of process; and Asia and the Pacific region provide 3% of the world’s fresh and 4% of the process blueberries produced worldwide.
Worldwide blueberry trends show that North and South America remain the major players in the global blueberry market. North America remains by far the largest market and consumer of blueberries with room for per capita consumption growth in both fresh and process. Production is developing gradually in the European and African growing regions; and while the United Kingdom is a major blueberry consumer, the mainland European market represents considerable untapped potential for consumption growth. Asia is the home of the fastest growing markets for blueberries in the world today and though blueberry production in Asia is increasing, it is not growing as rapidly as Asian consumer demand.
Very significant growth in worldwide highbush blueberry production is expected over the next few years moving from a 400 million pound total in 2005 to a projected 1 billion pounds by 2013 and 1.4 billion pounds by the year 2015. An overview of trends in the various growing regions follows beginning with North America.
During the fifteen year period from 1995 to 2010 highbush blueberry acreage in North America increased by +55% from an estimated 71,025 acres to 110,290 acres. The Western region of the United States accounted for 40% of the highbush acreage in 2010 with an estimated total of 43,088 acres. The Southern region represented 27% of the total (29,450 acres) followed by the Midwest at 22% (25,200 acres), the Northeast at 10% (10,880 acres) and Mexico and Central America at 1% (1,672 acres).
Significant acreage growth has taken place in the Western region with a +90% increase in highbush blueberry acreage since 2005. British Columbia has the most highbush blueberry acreage in this region at an estimated total of 21,020 acres in 2010 followed by Washington at 8,820 acres; Oregon at 7,458 acres and California at 5,790 acres. Acreage in the Southern region is up +62% since 2005 with Georgia the acreage leader in 2010 at an estimated 12,800 acres followed by North Carolina (6,800 acres); Florida (3,950 acres); Mississippi and Louisiana (3,850 acres); Texas (1,050 acres); and Arkansas (550 acres). A small amount of other southern states account for the remaining 450 acres.
Michigan remains the state with the most blueberry acreage at an estimated 22,750 acres in 2010. Indiana accounts for 950 acres in 2010 with miscellaneous other Midwestern states accounting for the remaining balance of 1,500 acres in the region. The Northeast region had the lowest amount of acreage growth during this period with an increase of +12% since 2005. New Jersey has the majority of highbush blueberry acreage in the region at an estimated 8,120 acres followed by Eastern Canada at 1,560 acres and New York at 1,200 acres.
Though from a low base, Mexican and Central American highbush blueberry acreage has increased nearly nine fold since 2005 moving from 180 acres in 2005 to an estimated 1,672 acres in 2010. Southern Mexico accounts for the majority of this acreage at an estimated 1,350 acres followed by Northern Mexico at 295 acres and Guatemala at an estimated 27 acres.
Given the growth in acreage, it is not a surprise that highbush blueberry production in North America increased by +18% from 2008 to 2010 from 416 million pounds to 491 million pounds. Looking at historical figures, North American highbush blueberry production has increased nearly eight fold over the past 40 years from 61 million pounds in 1970 to a total of 491 million pounds in 2010. A crop of 500 million pounds is currently estimated for 2011.
For a look around the world, go to the next page.