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Business and Economy

Despite Popularity Of 'Superfoods' Maine's Wild Blueberry Industry In Decline

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Robert F. Bukaty
/
Associated Press
In this Friday, Aug. 24, 2018, photo, Sam Bentzinger, left, and Jake Bentzinger unload freshly picked wild blueberries at the Coastal Blueberry Service in Union, Maine.

DEBLOIS, Maine - The Maine wild blueberry industry is locked in a downward skid in an era when "superfoods'' dominate the conversation about how to eat.The little blueberries are beloved by health food lovers because of their hefty dose of antioxidants and ability to be used in smoothies and juices. But the industry that harvests them is dealing with a long-term price drop, and farmers are looking at a second consecutive year of reduced crop size.
 
The wild blueberry industry exists mostly in Maine and Atlantic Canada, and an oversupply of product caused prices to farmers to plummet around 2015. Recent years have brought new challenges such as drought, fungal diseases that kill berries and difficulty opening up new markets.
 
The woes have caused some farmers to scale back operations in Maine.