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International customers will buy record blueberry harvest


November 27, 2008
By The Canadian Press

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wildbb02November 24, 2008, Truro, N.S. –
Blueberry growers in central Nova Scotia say a growing number of
international customers should help them sell off record harvests this
year and offset shrinking prices.

November 24, 2008, Truro, N.S. – Blueberry growers in central Nova Scotia say a growing number of international customers should help them sell off record harvests this year and offset shrinking prices.

wildbb02Neil Erb, president of the Wild Blueberry Producers Association of Nova Scotia (WBPANS), said that North America saw a record blueberry crop this year.

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Nova Scotia’s lowbush crop was slightly more than 18 million kilograms, which is up from the past couple of years and the fifth largest provincial crop on record.

The downside of bumper crops was a price drop from a record high of $2.20 per kilogram in 2006-07 to about $1.30. The farm-gate value was more than $24 million.

Erb said his group is actively promoting blueberries internationally, in such places as Germany, the United King, Japan and the United States to strike a better balance between supply and demand.

“We contribute a substantial amount of funds to the Wild Blueberry Association of North America,” he said, adding that group has a growing number of international contacts, which have already led to new markets.

“If demand is up, the price will hopefully increase, too.”

Erb, a Lower Sackville resident with a family blueberry farm in Parrsboro, said the global financial turmoil hasn’t appeared to have had a major impact on the movement of berries.

A total of 250 growers attended the WBPANS annual conference November 21 to 22, 2008.

The association represents about 1,100 growers with roughly 16,000 hectares of blueberries.

Many of Nova Scotia’s blueberries are sold as frozen food ingredients, added to such finished products as muffins, pies, yogurts, jellies, jams, smoothies and even chewing gum.

David Sangster, executive director of the provincial association, said lowbush blueberries are the top agricultural crop in terms of export sales in Nova Scotia.

He believes the push to promote internationally, which has been stepped up in the last three years, is already working and that the industry wouldn’t be able to sell as many blueberries without it.

The association is investing about $140,000 in international promotion.

“We obviously need to get prices strong enough to offset input costs paid by growers,” said Sangster.


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