Kiwis eating more blueberries than ever

A record eight million punnets were sold last season.
A record eight million punnets were sold last season. Photo credit: Getty

It seems Kiwis can't get enough of blueberries, with new figures showing a record eight million punnets of the berries were sold last season.

That was a 1.1 million punnet increase (15.2 percent) on the 2019/20 blueberry season and followed a similar increase from the year before.

Dan Peach, chairman of Blueberries New Zealand, said in total more than $30 million of the berries were sold last year. And he is predicting even more sales this season, thanks in part to the COVID-19 lockdowns.

"In my opinion, people have genuinely reconnected with real food this year, particularly fruit and vegetables," he said.

"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." 

Peach said the fruit was shown to have a positive effect on gut health, anti-ageing, brain function and could also lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.

They are also good for fighting off the blues.

"They contain higher antioxidant levels than just about every other fruit and vegetable. They’re low in calories, high in nutrients, and will help improve your mood." 

Around 60 percent of New Zealand's annual blueberry crop is exported to Australia and Asia, Peach said, adding that the industry was expecting strong international demand this year.

The season lasts until around March.