Canadian blueberry profitability is expected to improve in 2019. High storage levels, low prices and tight profit margins have most recently characterized the blueberry sector. But currently declining inventories and growing global demand should lead to improved farm-gate prices.
Excellent growing conditions throughout the Pacific Northwest are estimated to have produced a record-setting crop in 2018. B.C.’s production is estimated to have increased 15 per cent. That won’t be enough to offset declining North American blueberry inventories. Weather and production issues challenged the North American 2018 growing season.
In eastern Canada, spring frost reduced Quebec production by 4.4 per cent (to an estimated 75 million pounds) and Atlantic Canada by 25 per cent (to 96 million pounds). Some U.S. states also experienced issues. As an example, the crop in Michigan, a top-five U.S. producer, is estimated at 66 million pounds, down 33 per cent from the 10-year average and the smallest since 2005. The year’s pressured production helped reduce U.S. cold storage in October to the lowest levels in the last six years.
International demand continues to expand. While Canadian blueberry consumption seems to have matured, holding the five-year average of 2.38 pounds per capita in 2017, U.S. consumption continues to break records. Increasing every year since 2006, it reached an estimated 1.79 pounds per capita in 2017. Opportunities are also ramping up in Asia, where demand continues to grow as a result of trade agreements and active promotion.
Source: Farm Credit Canada Ag Economics 2019 Outlook published January 2019