Blueberries New Zealand chairperson Dan Peach

Kiwis were keen to satisfy their blueberry cravings last season with new grocery statistics showing we ate an additional one million punnets.

Blueberry consumption has increased by approximately one million punnets per year and a renewed focus on maintaining good health could mean that sales will skyrocket again this summer.

New grocery statistics show New Zealanders consumed a record 8 million punnets of blueberries last year worth over $30 million – a 1.1 million punnet increase (or 15.2%) on the 2019/20 blueberry season.

This is an almost identical rise as the year before showing the blueberry remains in high demand.

The humble berry’s success can be attributed to a number of factors with one being the fruits partnership with Olympian Eliza McCartney who has been the blueberry ambassador for the last five years.

Blueberries New Zealand chairperson Dan Peach predicts the COVID-19 lockdown experience may push sales up even further this summer.

“In my opinion, people have genuinely reconnected with real food this year, particularly fruit and vegetables. 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.”

Blueberries contain antioxidants that slow down the brains aging process and act as an anti-inflammatory.

“Blueberries pack a real punch with the positive effect they have on gut health, anti-aging, brain function and can lower the risk of heart disease and cancer,” says Peach.

Blueberries can also assist with memory, particularly in children, as foods rich in flavonoids help with cognitive brain function.

Around 60% of New Zealand’s annual blueberry crop is exported to Australia and Asia, and growers expect international demand will be stronger than ever thanks to New Zealand’s clean, green reputation and effective COVID-19 response.

“Demand looks to be really strong internationally this year, and a hot, dry summer will produce exceptionally good berries. We’re confident New Zealanders will continue their love of blueberries and find ways to consume even more this coming season. There will be plenty of punnets on supermarket shelves between now and March, so enjoy them while you can.”