Bountiful berries and prices 0
Local blueberry growers are on track to produce a record crop this summer, but harvest failures in the eastern U.S. mean that won't translate into lower prices for local consumers.
"The (Pacific) northwest, we're the last ones to have fresh fruit," said Richmond blueberry producer Robert Fisher, noting producers are seeing "reasonable" wholesale prices of about $3.97 per kilogram.
"It seems consumer demand is strong, so pricing is strong as well," said Debbie Etsell, executive director of the B.C. Blueberry Council.
It hasn't been a year without challenges for local blueberry producers, as a long, wet spring first impacted pollination and ripening of the crop, and then the summer hot spell threatened to soften the berries before they could be harvested.
But the current forecast for more seasonal temperatures bodes well for the local industry, which is forecasting a harvest as high as 47 million kilograms, surpassing last year's record of 43 million kilograms. Many producers look set to have their best year in recent memory.
"Last year was a total wipeout with the rain and the frost," said Fisher, adding the two years prior to that were also impacted by poor weather and poor pricing.
"This year is very much better."