Because of their high vitamin content, blueberries are healthy and really tasty. However, the growers are sounding the alarm: they cannot keep up with the prices of the imported fruit. We give tips for buying blueberries.
Domestic blueberry growers are under cost pressure and competition from Eastern Europe. “Sink or die – this year has shown that this blueberry season has been lost 100 percent for the berry growers,” said the chairman of the Association of Asparagus and Berry Growers, Fred Eickhorst, the Landvolk press service. He is angry with the food retail trade (LEH), which only takes the regional blueberries for the Eastern European price.
Criticism from the farmers: blueberries are sold at a discount
The Lower Saxony Chamber of Agriculture also observes the competitive disadvantages of domestic cultivation companies. The regional producers would have enormously increasing wage costs, in particular due to the corona-related special editions. Wherever there are labour-intensive processes – including when harvesting strawberries, raspberries or asparagus – local businesses are affected by this massive competitive disadvantage. “We are also appealing for reasons of quality and freshness to buy blueberries from local cultivation,” said the chamber.
German goods are usually only offered in the smallest sizes. “Right next to it were the large packs, of course cheaper, but with the goods from Eastern Europe. For the consumer who doesn’t look closely, that’s not recognizable,” explained Eickhorst. There is no clear labeling of food. “Two years ago we introduced the label “Harvested in Germany” with a black, red and gold flag on it. Easily recognizable for the customer. But the trade prevents the labeling,” he said.
Fewer and fewer blueberries from domestic cultivation
Ten years ago, according to seasonal information, 80 percent of the berries were still produced in Germany. “Now there are blueberries on the shelves all year round, but only 16 percent of the total quantity comes from Germany – and the trend is still falling,” reported Eickhorst. That no longer fits together and can also be seen in other berries such as strawberries and raspberries. Eickhorst sees the legislator as having a duty to balance the different competition, social and environmental requirements in the EU with regulations. It starts with the production standards, continues with the transport and the associated carbon dioxide emissions, through to the mandatory labeling of the ingredients in processed products.
Tips for buying and storing blueberries
The season for locally grown blueberries starts at the end of June and lasts into September.
Store-bought blueberries should look plump and have a light layer of fur on them. You should leave small bowls with wilted berries, these are no longer fresh.
If you are not going to eat the berries right away, discard any mushy berries and make sure the berries are dry.
Blueberries can be stored in the fridge for several days.
The sweet and sour fruits can easily be frozen. Then you don’t have to resort to imported goods in winter.
According to the information, Lower Saxony is the largest cultivation area for blueberries in Germany. The fruits grow on around 2000 hectares – that corresponds to around 70 percent of all cultivation in Germany. The main harvest in Lower Saxony lasts from mid-July to early August – but due to different ripening times, the season lasts until mid-September. According to the State Statistical Office, 160 companies in Lower Saxony harvested a total of 6743 tons of cultivated blueberries last year.