The most recent data available from the North American Blueberry Council, Folsom, Calif., estimated that per-capita fresh consumption in 2009 was 15.4 ounces in the U.S., Villata said. In 2005, fresh consumption was 7.3 ounces.
The fruit is an increasingly important commodity for California Giant Inc., Watsonville. It increased its blueberry production by 30% over last year, said Cindy Jewell, director of marketing, by adding more growers and acreage, and by getting more volume from existing bushes.
Jewell said blueberries used to be more of a regional fruit, with demand higher in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Now, though, with the media attention that blueberries have received because of their nutritional value and antioxidant levels, California Giant is seeing double-digit increases in purchases.
Blueberries are available year-round from various growing regions. California Giant’s summer blueberries are grown in short seasons in California, New Jersey and the northeastern and northwestern U.S.
The peak period for blueberries from Giumarra VBM International Berry LLC, Vernon, Calif., is mid-May to mid-August, said Bruce Turner, director of operations in the Wenatchee office.
The company markets blueberries from throughout the U.S. and from Canada, including California, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Summer blueberries were expected to be available into September from British Columbia and Michigan, Turner said.