NZ blueberry industry expanding to cope with record demand

Kiwis bought an extra one million punnets of blueberries last summer compared to the year before, up almost 20 percent.
Kiwis bought an extra one million punnets of blueberries last summer compared to the year before, up almost 20 percent. Photo credit: Supplied

New Zealander's growing love for blueberries is seeing rapid expansion in the industry. 

A record seven million punnets of fresh locally-grown blueberries were consumed last season and that's expected to be topped this summer as the main season gets underway.

Latest supermarket sales data shows Kiwis bought an extra one million punnets of blueberries (18.3 percent more) last summer compared to the year before, with total sales now exceeding $25 million. 

Blueberries' NZ chairman, Dan Peach credited the high-profile partnership with New Zealand Olympian Eliza McCartney and general health trends for the big rise in sales.

"Eliza is a wonderful person to work with and our association with her certainly adds to the growing popularity of blueberries," he said.

"New Zealanders are now more aware of the extraordinary health benefits so they're choosing to eat blueberries in greater quantities than ever before."

New Zealand Olympian Eliza McCartney has signed on to be Blueberries’ NZ ambassador for the fourth year running .
New Zealand Olympian Eliza McCartney has signed on to be Blueberries’ NZ ambassador for the fourth year running . Photo credit: Getty

Peach said blueberries were a superfruit and contained higher antioxidant levels than just about every other fruit and vegetable. 

"The flavonoid, anthocyanin, gives blueberries their colour and is the antioxidant with the greatest impact against free-radical damage."

Due to greenhouse innovations, blueberries were now grown under cover year-round but the main supply runs from December until March.

There are 600 hectares planted in blueberries at present in both the North and South Islands.

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