Imported Blueberries In The Off Season
During the winter months most of the blueberries you see in the grocery store are from the Southern Hemisphere, where our winter is their summer. Chile is the largest blueberry producer in the Southern Hemisphere followed by Argentina and New Zealand. Blueberries are shipped either by boat or airplane to the United States depending on what part of the import season we are in. Blueberries shipped by plane will be more expensive but fresher and blueberries sent by boat will be less expensive and not as fresh due to the shipping costs and travel time of the two methods.
From November to January the supply of imported blueberries is limited as the season begins. The supply is not large enough to fill a boat so the blueberries are shipped by airplane to Los Angeles, arriving within a few days of being picked. After going through customs, the blueberries will be put on a truck for San Francisco, taking about a total of 5-7 days to reach your grocery store from the time they are picked. Blueberries will be available through January in 4.4 oz and 6 oz clamshells, increasing to 8 oz clamshells or larger as supply increases and the season continues. As supply picks up at the start of the year, blueberries are shipped by boat in a controlled climate of 33 degrees Fahrenheit, taking about 3 weeks to arrive on the West Coast.
Blueberries will be coming out of the Southern Hemisphere through March when the domestic season starts up again. Occasionally if the weather is warm enough we will receive a shipment of California blueberries from Forbidden Fruit Orchards in February.
When choosing blueberries look for firm, plump, fragrant, dark blue berries with a dusty white bloom. The white bloom is the blueberry’s natural protection against the sun and is a sign of freshness. Always check the underside of the container for any wet spots or staining. Discard any soft, moldy, or crushed berries.