I am trying to eat healthier with less processed foods and I'm a pretty smart guy to begin with. But I can't figure this out for the life of me - why are berries so expensive? I love things like boysenberries and blueberries but I almost choke when I see their price in the store. Why are berries expensive?
It is a combination of many factors. To sell you one perfect apple, one perfect bunch of bananas, or one perfect half-pint of berries requires:
- the land to grow on
- workers to plant, tend, weed, and pick
- transportation to market
- loss allowance for fruit that's bruised or spoils in transit
- loss allowance for fruit that spoils while at the store and people won't buy it
Many of these factors are objectively higher for berries than for applies or bananas, especially given their short shelf life and tendency to bruise.
This puts a floor on the price growers and stores can charge. Then on top of that, they are delicious and healthy, so at least some people will pay that price. This removes downward pressure to sell them at a loss to get you in the store.
A better question is what can you do about it? The answer is generally to use frozen berries (they don't incur the spoiling and bruising losses) or to eat berries only when they're in season locally and eat other kinds of fruit the rest of the year.
There's a variety of reasons I can imagine:
- They're more delicate than most other fruits, so shipping without damaging is harder. Loss due to crushing is expected.
- They go bad quickly, which can limit the area they can be delivered to and the method of delivery (planes are more expensive than trucks) but also gives them significantly shorter shelf life in the stores - meaning stores have to charge extra for what they sell because they have to discard anything that starts to rot.
- They're more difficult to pick because they're tiny and (often) protected by thorns, so the cost to produce is higher.
- They're in additional packaging... apples are loose in giant boxes, berries are usually in small plastic containers that add cost to the overhead.
Think of it the other way around. I got the answer by asking why are bananas so cheap. I live in Michigan, and bananas, even though they have to be shipped from points far south of here, are cheaper than non-cull apples which can be grown locally. The reason (if you remember the Banana Boat Song by Harry Belafonte) is that bananas grow in 6, 7, and 8 foot bunches, meaning that they can be harvested very quickly without a lot of labor. Apples have to be picked one at a time. You will also notice that strawberries are cheaper than any other kind of berry. This is because they are bigger, and therefore take less labor to pick the same quantity. Potatoes and wheat are harvested by machine and therefore cost even less
Another answer perhaps overlooked is that they are smaller than fruit Irregardless of cost of production, shipping and storing, a small box of berries with 30 berries in it seems like more value than an single apple, even though they have the same weight.
Likewise, the way they are used affects how much people will pay; They are often used more as garnish and decoration. A small box of raspberries can be enough to spruce up a dessert, whereas fruit often needs to be a bigger ingredient.
I think berries are getting more and more expensive because it takes tons of water to grow berries and slowly we are losing water on this planet so it costs more to water them. also if you are buying organic ones from a local farmer that is amazing but is probably more expensive because its organic so they rot faster because there is no pesticides witch is great! i do know that it is possible to buy cheap healthy food you just have to do a little researching at stores near you and maybe if you are up for it you could start a little garden in your yard.