North American blueberry production rose slightly in 2012

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North American blueberry production rose slightly in 2012

Highbush blueberry production rose by 5% year-on-year in 34 U.S. states and British Columbia during 2012, reaching 559.4 million pounds (253.8 million kilograms). blueberry_13910593 small

The latest figures released by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) show this is a 32% increase over 2008 production.

"Nearly half the 2012 North American production (285.9 million pounds) comes from the West coast region. Since 2008, California production nearly tripled and Washington more than doubled. British Columbia and Oregon have expanded steadily but in smaller increments," the USHBC said in a release.

"The Southern region, with nearly a quarter of total North American production (138.5 million pounds), is the other high-growth region where Florida, Georgia and North Carolina have shown significant increases over the past five years.

"Michigan, with a long history as the highest producing state, maintains its lead with a total 76.3 million pounds. New Jersey, where the cultivated blueberry industry was born nearly 100 years ago, contributed 51 million pounds in 2012."

The release said South America was "shattering" its own production records with Chile leading the charge.

"Chilean exports to the U.S. in the 2012/13 season are forecast at 79,400 tons, approximately 12% more than 2011/12, down from original forecasts due to excessive rain and frost," the release said.

"The South American season—which starts in September, peaks in mid-December and ends in late April—allows for year-round availability of fresh blueberries in the U.S. With Chile predicting 50% growth over the next five seasons, South America will continue its contribution to the growing wave of global blueberry production."

The release highlighted a rise in consumption as well, having risen 129% from 2000-01 to 2011-12, reaching 36.2oz in per capita terms.

"In recent years, our primary marketing target has evolved to include the consumer group with the greatest ‘next tier’ potential to increase blueberry sales – women aged 25-45, augmenting traditional blueberry purchasers, who are in the 45-60 range," said USHBC executive director Mark Villata.

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