Over the past 20 years blueberry shipments have soared.
Total blueberry shipments nationally in 1996 was 164 million pounds, with the largest producer being the Great Lakes at 45 million pounds, versus 25 million pounds from Oregon and Washington.
In 2015, total production was 711 million pounds, with 75 million pounds from the Great Lakes versus 196 million pounds from Oregon and Washington. That 2015 total production is equivalent to 17,775 truck loads.
If you count British Columbia and California, the shift from the East to the West is even more dramatic during that period, from 38 percent to 59 percent of total production.
Blueberry plantings continue at a brisk pace. Between 2007 and 2014, worldwide plantings grew at a compounded annual rate of 10 percent.
In North America, the figure for that period was 8 percent. By the end of 2014, blueberry acreage in North America totaled 143,636 acres. Worldwide, the total was 273,929 acres.
No slowdown in plantings is seen thus far, although like many other produce commodities over the years over production is bound to hit the blueberry industry.
One major change is that wild blueberries are becoming a direct competitor with highbush blueberries.
Wild blueberry growers now differentiate their product as “the better blueberry,” claiming wild blueberries taste better and provide twice the amount of antioxidants of planted blueberries.
The first domestic blueberry shipments each year usually start in late March from Florida.