Ahead of the incoming Biden Administration’s first major trade dispute, American and international blueberry berry growers, importers, distributors, purchasers, and suppliers have aligned to form The Blueberry Coalition for Progress & Health. The Coalition has been organized to oppose limitations on blueberry imports, including the upcoming International Trade Commission hearing on blueberry imports. All members agree that imports are not a substantial cause of serious injury to the domestic blueberry industry. In fact, the U.S. blueberry market is healthy, thriving, and is doing its best to keep up with the year-round marketplace demand for this fruit.
U.S. consumer consumption of blueberries has experienced more than a 300% increase in per capita consumption since 2005 and is now at an all-time high of 1.79 pounds per person. Restricting blueberry imports into the U.S. will limit consumers’ access. Domestic growers cannot alone meet the rapidly growing U.S. consumer demand for a year-round supply of this fruit. Imports are crucial both to meet current demand and to continue to grow.
“Our family has been farming in America for over 10 generations, and we are headquartered in the San Joaquin Valley in California. Our decision to farm in Mexico and Peru, in addition to the U.S., was in direct response from our retail customers to produce and deliver quality blueberries throughout the entire year,” said Dave Jackson co-owner of Family Tree Farms and a key member of the Coalition.
The seasonal nature of domestic production means that blueberries grown in the U.S. are essentially unavailable for 20 to 30 weeks a year for most U.S. consumers, and the vast majority of the increase in fresh blueberry imports has occurred during these months. Approximately 80% of imported fresh blueberries enter the U.S. in off-peak weeks, implying that the vast majority of imports do not compete with domestic blueberries. Given the lack of temporal overlap when the two sources of supply are present in the U.S. market, imported and domestic blueberries are better seen as complements than substitutes.
“The domestic industry has earned double-digit operating margins in every year of the time period included within the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) investigation, which compares favorably to broader farm industry benchmarks,” added Joe Barsi, President of California Giant Farms of Watsonville, Calif. and also a leading member of the Coalition.
“The U.S. blueberry market is thriving, and our goal is to ensure that we continue to fairly meet the marketplace demand for this healthy and delicious fruit,” added Barsi. “Blueberry imports are crucial to U.S. consumers, retailers, and the U.S. economy, and they clearly contribute to the success of the domestic industry. We are launching this Coalition to alert America’s blueberry lovers and to educate decision makers on the stakes of their upcoming actions, and to prevent the destruction of the thriving and essential blueberry industry.”
For more information:
Blueberry Coalition for Progress and Health