The blueberry-growing boom in Georgia has been going on since the late ’90s, but chairman of the Georgia Blueberry Commission, Joe Cornelius, says it really ramped up around 2005. Right now, there’s a documented 14,000 acres of blueberries in the state. “But we in the industry think there’s closer to 20,000 to 22,000 acres actually in the dirt,” Cornelius says. “And we’ve not seen our full potential yet.”
Currently, Georgia is the third largest producer of blueberries in the country, behind Michigan and New Jersey. Last year, Georgia produced about 52 million pounds of blueberries, according to Cornelius, and he expects that number to continue to grow. “In 2000 we were into the 20 million to 25 million pound game, and now we’re at the 52 million pound game, and I see us being in the 75 million pound game shortly,” he says.
He adds that in the next three to five years, he expects to see some checking and balancing of production because of cost structures. “States or regions that have a higher input production cost are probably going to see some really tight times,” he says.
But demand for blueberries continues to grow. “The demand curve has been fantastic,” says Cornelius. “I don’t know of anything else in agriculture where you can talk about doubling or tripling production in a 15 year period and the marketplace being fairly stable.”
In the wake of the state’s thriving blueberry industry, the Georgia Blueberry Commission unveiled a new logo, confirming the proactive initiative behind the promotion efforts on behalf of blueberries for the state of Georgia.
The logo incorporates deep, dusted-blue tones and gold-emblazoned outlines with the state of Georgia proudly appearing in the background. It displays authentic Georgia blueberries in a farmer’s basket and incorporates the Commission’s theme, “Sweet Georgia Blues,” as a poignant tagline.
“We hope our logo will help people think of Georgia when they think of sweet blueberries,” says Cornelius, “Consumers have been enjoying Georgia blueberries for quite some time, but it hasn’t been until the past year that we have really started to make a name for ourselves. We want people to associate fine quality with the blueberries that come from Georgia every year.”