Robust demand for wild blueberries has New Brunswick cranking up production
WILD BLUEBERRIES are becoming big business in New Brunswick. As global demand for wild blueberries has grown over the past decade thanks to more awareness of the health benefits derived from their high antioxidant content, jurisdictions where the crop grows have been looking to cash in. Unlike regular blueberries, the wild variety can’t be planted; they grow wild where nature put them. As a result there are not many places where wild blueberries grow; Quebec, Maine and Atlantic Canada are among the lucky few. Recognizing the high value of this cash crop, New Brunswick has increased its output significantly. From 2012 to 2014 alone, annual production increased by 33 million pounds.
Upping its game
New Brunswick’s wild blueberry production has grown substantially in the past decade, but two-thirds of the crop is still shipped outside the province to be processed. That’s a lot of value-added jobs that are being lost. But a new processing plant is partially addressing that. Owned by Acadian Wild Blueberry Co., the Saint-Isidore-based facility is billed as the world’s most modern blueberry processing plant. It has two freezing tunnels than can process up to 1.5 million pounds of blueberries per day and its cold storage holds 45 million pounds. The plant, which opened this summer, will create 300 full-time jobs over a 10-year period.