Northwest Blueberry Yields Increase Dramatically, But Market Prices Same

Jul 6, 2012

It’s not news that Washington is producing record amounts of blueberries this year. It happened last year. Next year will likely break another record and the year after that too. The real news is: Where is the fruit going, and why is it still so expensive? Correspondent Anna King explains.

Alan Schreiber is the head of Washington’s Blueberry Commission.

“The eastern Washington crop this year is going to be huge," he says. "It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen.”

And he expects the huge growth to continue. He’s standing in a massive cooler next to bins and bins of blueberries. But he says don’t think this growing bounty will make the fruit any cheaper.

Blueberry farming is an expensive business. And, on top of that, an increasing demand is matching the increasing supply. Schreiber says it turns out America is hungry for blueberries. The more harvested, the more people eat.

Also, he says other people can now afford blueberries –- think China and Korea.

“If it says United States and it says blueberries they want it," Schreiber says. "And they are willing to pay for it.”

Northwest growers are trying to pry open those export markets to take up their increased production. So don’t expect a sale-priced clamshell of berries anytime soon.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio