Of course, berries are one of the most popular “superfoods” these days because they are not only high in antioxidants and low in food safety risk, but they also look and taste so good.
Their rich, vibrant colors make them big impulse buys, and they’re among the most versatile produce items for creative recipes.
“Most berries want to emulate blueberries, which have transformed from tasty things found in muffins and pancakes to stars of the produce aisle,” Lu Ann Williams, head of research for Innova Market Insights, Netherlands, says in the WSJ article.
“Now more varieties want to make the leap from seasonal treat to staple. Since 2008, Innova says, U.S. marketers have introduced 358 products with goji berries as an ingredient, about 200 with bilberry and more than 500 with elderberry,” the article continues.
Of course, regular Packer readers already know from our coverage that demand for berries is on the rise, leading to greater U.S. production as well as a surging number of imports, particularly raspberries from Mexico and blueberries from Chile.
“The result is that berries remain a premium product, with an average retail price of $2.82 for units comparable with $1.68 a pound for stone fruits like plums, peaches and nectarines, according to Nielsen Holdings Perishables Group,” the WSJ article states.
“In the past two years, weekly same-store supermarket sales of berries have risen 18%, according to Nielsen, despite an average 4% rise in retail prices for the berries in the same period. Sales of raspberries rose 31%, and blackberries and blueberries 27% and 25%, respectively. Strawberries’ respectable 11% increase is actually a drag on growth.”
Don Sturm, for one, whose Corbett, Ore.-based Sturm’s Berry Farm is up from about 150 acres in 2008 to almost 300 acres now, is betting the next berry breaking sales records will be another kind of black berry, like the acai.
According to the WSJ, Sturm and others have formed a new company, BerriHealth, to sell “black raspberry liquid extract and freeze-dried powder to university researchers testing the effects on cancers and chronic inflammatory diseases.”
After reading the WSJ article, though, I feel the prospects for an ample acai successor are slim at best for the fresh market.
Westin Foods, of my hometown of Omaha, Neb., is marketing aronias under the Superberries brand, but only in gummy chews for kids and in smoothie concentrate, according to the WSJ.