Due to good weather and newly matured acres, Chilean blueberry growers and importers say the U.S. market will see a large supply of blueberries through March, according to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. The availability of South American blueberries in winter allows foodservice operators to menu fresh blueberries year-round.
Acres planted with highbush blueberries in Chile more than quadrupled to nearly 23,000 acres in 2007 from just over 5,000 in 2003. Chile accounted for 81 percent of blueberry imports into the U.S. from South America in 2009. The main growing area is the Bio Bio region, with production ranging from Copiapó in the north to Puerto Montt in the south.
"As volume increases, you're assured plenty of fresh blueberries on the market and favorable prices," said Mark Villata, executive director of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, in a statement. "Volume is increasing as newer fields in Chile continue to mature, which means noticeable increases in yield."
For more information, including blueberry history, nutrition and chef-tested recipes, visit www.blueberrycouncil.org.