Kentucky Blueberry Market Development

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2003: $4,786.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Timothy Woods
University of Kentucky


  • Fruits: berries (other)


  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, agricultural finance, market study


    Research evaluated demand for Pick Your Own (PYO) blueberries in Kentucky and consumer response to different blueberry packaging options, including preference for recyclable packaging. Consumers were surveyed at on-farm direct markets, farmers’ markets, and local groceries. Various types of blueberry packaging were test marketed at the Fairview Produce Auction (southwest Kentucky), successfully introducing bulk blueberries as a viable auction item. This project concluded by generating blueberry packaging and marketing recommendations for Kentucky. These are included in “Marketing Fresh Highbush Blueberries in Kentucky,” University of Kentucky Department of Agricultural Economics Extension Publication AEC-EXT 2004-01, available at


    Kentucky’s blueberry plantings have increased from 20 acres in 1997 to approximately 65 acres in 2003. Expansion is ongoing. Primary markets for new plantings are farmers’ markets, on-farm markets (especially Pick Your Own), and local groceries. Recent surveys of farmers selling produce in Kentucky indicate that over 75% of them are selling some of their produce through direct marketing channels. Almost all the product being grown is targeted for the fresh market. Other viable markets are the Fairview Produce Auction and local restaurants/foodservice. Higher wholesale berry prices were observed at the Fairview Produce in 2003; three additional produce auctions are slated to open in Kentucky in 2004.

    Kentucky blueberry growers have had little problem marketing blueberries locally. Increased blueberry plantings, notably those financed through county level Agricultural Diversification Program funds from tobacco settlement monies, have caused some concern about the potential for overwhelming local retail demand. Many farmers in Kentucky are looking at developing alternative enterprises on their farm, and the early success some have had with blueberries has captured a lot of attention. Orderly and more sophisticated marketing is a critical requirement for successful and sustainable development of blueberries as a new crop in Kentucky.

    This project helped define some characteristics of blueberry consumers in Central and South Central Kentucky and test wholesale demand for blueberries at the Fairview Produce Auction. The project focused especially on consumer willingness to pay for local Pick Your Own (PYO) blueberries and retail packaging preferences.

    Project objectives:

    1. Evaluate blueberry consumer characteristics and willingess to pay for PYO blueberries at different direct markets.

      Test market various blueberry package types and sizes at Fairview Produce Auction.

      Evaluate consumer and producer acceptance of various berry packaging types.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.