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Poor harvest hikes bilberry prices worldwide

Bilberry harvests have been poor in several key regions, and the dearth of berries in Eastern Europe especially has raised prices by as much as 70 percent in a year. The Finnish crop was middling, producers say.

Ämpärillinen juolukoita ja mustikoita
Bilberry batches plummet. Image: Juha Koskiniemi
Yle News

The price of bilberries has risen dramatically in Finland after three years of declining costs.

"The median price for bilberries bought directly from farmers has been 65-70 percent higher than one year ago," says Jukka Kristo of food company Polarica.

The bilberry has gained ground as a so-called 'superfood' worldwide. In Japan and China, for instance, the health benefits of the fruit have lead to purchases rising year on year, studies show.

In good harvest years bilberry prices have remained low; now, however, poor crops in Eastern Europe as well as the United States have resulted in a dip in production and a leap in prices.

High rise

The production snag coupled with high demand should delight Finnish berry pickers and food firms, but the 2017 harvest ripened late and was relatively low in yield.

"It would have been great if we'd had a proper harvest, what with the losses in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and the Baltics," Kristo says.

The supply issues mean that consumer prices have been driven up.

"Retail prices will likely rise by upwards of 20 percent," Kristo says.

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