For many centuries, Native Americans gathered fresh blueberries from the forests of North America.
Despite their long-held popularity in North America, blueberries were slow to take off in Australia.
Some reports have blueberries being brought here pre-1900. Other sources indicate that the first attempt to grow them was in the early 1950s, by Karel Kroon and Ralph Proctor from the Victorian Department of Agriculture.
Whoever was right, nobody had any real success until two decades later, the Victorian Department of Agriculture decided to try again. This time, David Jones successfully grew several blueberry plants; and his work was carried on by Ridley Bell and Margaret Tucker.
Their dedication over many, many years and their enthusiasm about the Australian blueberry industry saw the formation of the Australian Blueberry Growers’ Association (ABGA) in the late 1970s – 1978 to be precise. Both Margaret and Ridley spent time in the United States, learning as much as they could from the experts there. In fact, one of those experts – Professor Paul Eck – was brought to Australia for a year long sabbatical funded by the membership fees of those early association members.
In the 1980s, the general public began to get better acquainted with and demand more blueberries, and more sophisticated growing and cultivation techniques were introduced. Since then, commercial production has taken off and the industry has never looked back. The industry is still represented by the ABGA forty years on and the association has gone from strength to strength, investing in research & development and marketing activities to support the booming fresh Australian blueberry industry which now spans all six states of Australia.
Today, Australian blueberries are prized for their premium quality, delicious flavour and consistency in size. They are grown to exceptionally high food quality standards and are becoming an increasingly affordable every day fresh fruit choice for Australian consumers.