New Zealanders ate a record seven million punnets of fresh locally-grown blueberries last season and are expected to eat even more this summer as the main season gets underway.
Latest supermarket sales data shows Kiwis bought an extra one million punnets of blueberries (18.3% more) last summer compared to the year before, with total sales now exceeding $25 million.
New Zealand Olympian Eliza McCartney has signed on to be Blueberries’ NZ ambassador for the fourth year running and the organisation’s Chairman, Dan Peach, credits this high-profile partnership and general health trends for the big rise in sales.
“Eliza is a wonderful person to work with and our association with her certainly adds to the growing popularity of blueberries,” said Peach.
“New Zealanders are now more aware of the extraordinary health benefits so they’re choosing to eat blueberries in greater quantities than ever before.”
Blueberries are a super-fruit and contain higher antioxidant levels than just about every other fruit and vegetable. The flavonoid, anthocyanin, gives blueberries their colour and is the antioxidant with the greatest impact against free-radical damage.
Antioxidants in blueberries slow down the brain’s ageing process, therefore delaying mental decline. They are also anti-inflammatory and inflammation is the key driver of all chronic disease, Dan explains.
“Blueberries pack a real punch with the positive effect they have on gut health, anti-aging and brain function, and can lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.”
Parents will be interested to know that blueberries assist with memory, particularly in children, as foods rich in flavonoids help with cognitive brain function.
“We’re thrilled that a growing number of New Zealanders are recognising the health benefits and incorporating fresh blueberries into their diets,” Dan says. “They’re an easy way to improve your mood and the bottom line is they taste delicious.”
Thanks to greenhouse innovations, blueberries are now grown under cover year-round but the main supply runs from December until March which is when consumers can expect to enjoy the best value for money.
“There will be plenty of blueberries available in supermarkets from now on and with Eliza’s help, local growers will try to keep raising the bar in terms of the annual sales figures we can collectively achieve.”