14 May 2020

Covid-19 and blueberries: the global effects


n this document Fall Creek Europe has effectively summarised the main impacts that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the blueberries sector, from critical issues in production to changed market conditions and potential.


Covid-19 is having a profound and serious impact on the global economy and the lives of each and every one of us.

The coronavirus threat (COVID-19) continues to impact activity around the world. The fruit and vegetable sector is no exception. Many sectors are affected by this major global crisis. However, in times of crisis, we must look for opportunities.

In general, it appears that eating habits and purchasing patterns may change significantly in the future, although pandemic influenza will become less central.


Justin Sargent, president of Nielsen China...

A big question that Nielsen's report poses is: given that consumer behaviour in all markets in the immediate term has changed significantly in the short term, when will it return to normal?

Research currently says the answer may very well never be. To better understand consumer "feelings and behavior" during the global health emergency, researchers have focused on a comprehensive view of the world market to show how "behavior change can create new opportunities for all market players.


For example, home quarantine for Chinese respondents meant that 89% of consumers said they were more willing to buy basic necessities and fresh produce online when the pandemic ended.

With health emerging as a major indicator for future trends in the Chinese market, this could be a key opportunity for fresh fruit and vegetable retailers and food delivery services.

In mid-March 2020, retail sales of fresh produce increased by more than 30% YOY in the United States, while sales of frozen fruits and vegetables increased by more than 100% YOY because hoarding and consumption at home became more frequent.

The "health halo" around fresh produce could be a positive demand factor that ends up lasting longer than the Covid-19 outbreak.

In addition, according to Nielsen data, online sales and food deliveries have increased significantly.



A healthy diet is particularly important for keeping the immune system in optimal condition. People's biggest concern at the moment is their health, and here we can play a key role as we are fortunate to have a very beneficial product. blueberries is recognised as a superfood.

Global demand for blueberries remains strong due to the fruit's well-known nutritional and immune-boosting properties - a growing priority for health-conscious consumers around the world.

blueberry is a strong aid to the immune system and the closest thing to the fountain of youth. They can not only reduce the risk of numerous diseases, but also support brain function, reduce the rate of ageing and strengthen the immune system. This is all thanks to their ability to scavenge and stabilise harmful free radicals in the cell that are involved in the underlying cause of cell degeneration. Antioxidants are naturally occurring molecules in fruits and vegetables and are known for one thing: stopping cell-damaging free radicals.

Antioxidants work essentially by "removing" these culprits (free radicals) from the cell. Our body system naturally produces these beneficial compounds, but with age we lose the ability to do so. Plant diets rich in antioxidants can help increase their availability in the body and supplement cells with the protection they need.

A recent study published in Neurology found that what you eat is not only good for the body, but also beneficial for the brain. Eating leafy vegetables, vegetables and berries every day and drinking tea can help reduce the risk of dementia by 48 percent.

Among others, the most important benefits are:

  • Rich in antioxidants and high fiber content.
  • Further evidence that foods rich in antioxidants can increase the health of your brain.
  • blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps protect cells against damage and promotes iron absorption.

They also contain a fair amount of soluble fiber, which slows the rate of sugar release into the bloodstream and helps keep the digestive system healthy.

blueberries are extremely rich in phytochemicals, natural plant compounds such as ellagic acid and anthocyanidins, which are responsible for the blue, indigo and red colouring. Phytochemicals have been extensively studied for their antioxidant action, which helps protect the body from a long list of diseases.

Other powerful health benefits of blueberries are:

  • strengthen the bones,
  • skin care,
  • lowers bad cholesterol,
  • protects the health of the heart,
  • handles diabetes,
  • the anti-tumor potential,
  • improves brain function,
  • weight loss.

That said, consumers remain more attached to our product than ever before. blueberries are affordable, delicious and healthy!


Good news also for Europe, as experts say, the consumption of blueberries in Europe and Spain will multiply by 4 in the coming years. The consumption of blueberries is beginning to emerge in Europe, and in Spain, a region of the planet where this fruit is still little consumed compared to other areas of consumption such as the United States or Canada where the level is more than a kilo of demand per person and year.

Market studies indicate that in the next few years the consumption of blueberries in Europe and Spain will increase from 0.180 kilos per person and year to almost a kilo, and it is estimated that it could reach 0.860 kilos per inhabitant and year. An exponential increase that will make blueberry one of the products with the greatest growth prospects among berries.

In general, consumption of blueberries increased during the COVID 19 emergency and will remain at a higher level after health consciousness has increased penetration. The lower frequency of shoppers has created demand for larger pack sizes, which will most likely retain their place on the shelves. COVID 19 has also increased the demand for firmer blueberries (not soft) , as their shelf life must outweigh the lower frequency of shoppers. For this reason, retailers are raising the bar on quality, which is a long-term good thing for the blueberries business as a whole.

In recent years, trends in online interest through enquiries on blueberries have been relatively constant. In the last month or so, interest in blueberries has skyrocketed. Below is an analysis of the data from Google Trends.


As a grower, it is important to carefully examine the factors of production to increase profits whenever possible. One of the biggest challenges that farmers say they face is labour. Not only can it be difficult to secure a quality workforce, but it can be one of the biggest costs of running a successful business. That is why many farmers try to mechanise their operations as much as possible.


Due to the lockdown, we have seen labour shortages in both the South and the North and this has had specific consequences for industry in the short and medium to long term:

In the North, farmers have difficulty finding labour, so planting is difficult or cannot happen. Farmers have to be very creative these days.

In the South, farmers also have difficulty finding people to harvest, so not all fruits can be harvested with the resulting lack of income. This will affect future projects. Mechanical harvesting is becoming a necessity more than ever.

While some growers hesitate to harvest blueberries for the fresh market mechanically because of concerns about quality and fruit loss, Alamwala (a grower at blueberries in Lyndon, WA, has been harvesting blueberries on his farm mechanically for about 10 years) says he doesn't find it problematic, and the benefits of mechanical harvesting outweigh the disadvantages significantly. With the right varieties, it is possible to harvest blueberries mechanically without the blueberries being damaged or harmed.

In the east, Dave Yarborough of the University of Maine says that about 80 per cent of the blueberries wild harvest is harvested mechanically. Now some of the machines are equipped with lights and run 24 hours a day″, he adds. "And certainly the quality of the fruit is much higher with the cooler evenings - the fruit is more resilient."

It's the future. And for many small cultivators, it was really a salvation for them because they couldn't get enough manpower.

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