Blueberries reach hero status at retail

Blueberries reach hero status at retail

Blueberries have been growing at a rapid clip at retail, according to the United Fresh Produce Association’s FreshFacts report for the second quarter of 2020.

For the second quarter, FreshFacts reported sales of $584 million, up 10.6% from the second quarter of 2019 and up 17.1% compared with two years ago.

Retail blueberry volume sold in the second quarter of 2020 was 159 million pounds, up 6.9% from the second quarter last year and up 19.8% compared with two years ago.

The retail price per pound in the second quarter was $3.69, up 3.4% compared with a year ago, according to the report.

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Blueberries have been a growing category for quite a number of years now, said Mike Mauti, managing partner and senior vice president for Execulytics Consulting.  

The year-round availability of blueberries, their status as a superfruit and their versatility play big roles in the popularity of blueberries, Mauti said.

In terms of versatility, blueberries can be eaten out of hand, used as a breakfast food, as topping for cereal or yogurt, used in smoothies, baked into muffins and as a salad topper.

“Because of these reasons retailers look to feature them nearly 52 weeks per year,” Mauti said. 

“Even in the winter months we see multiple ads every week, even on larger packs like pints and 18-ounce, which have become more common in recent years.”

Mauti said blueberries have entered the shopping lists of many consumers.

“I consider blueberries to be a regular shopping list item year-round, but come the summer they get an added boost from impulse purchases in the larger pack sizes,” Mauti said. 

“Thinking back to 10-15 years ago, blueberries have grown into a 52-week program for all the reasons mentioned above. I anticipate blueberries will continue to enjoy growth for the foreseeable future as more volumes come on stream with all growing regions (continuing) to grow more.  

Karen Brux, managing director for North America for the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, said COVID-19 has had a huge impact on how consumers are eating, and that influences blueberry promotions.

Read more about Chilean blueberries here.

People are eating healthier foods, cooking at home more and planning meals in advance, she said.

“This is our opportunity for us to inspire with convenient, healthy, tasty ideas,” she said. 

“We have recipes and usage ideas for everything from Blueberry Power Balls to Blueberry Chia Parfaits, as well as a huge social media network (over 500,000 Facebook fans and 37,000 on Instagram).”

Brux said retail promotions will be the group’s primary focus, as it will partner with retailers to drive sales of Chilean blueberries and grow the category. 

“As COVID-19 continues and we enter into flu season, I expect retailers will want to continue with the focus on health benefits, so we will likely be talking about the high antioxidant content of blueberries. Digital ads and coupons are incredibly popular, with few in-store promotions taking place, so we will incorporate health messaging into the work we do with retailers,” she said. 

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