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6 Reasons Why Berries Are So Expensive

Berries are pretty much my go-to fruit. I like to snack on them because they are so healthy and low-calorie.

I used them in desserts to cut through the sweetness and add some freshness.

I even like them when I have my smoothie bowl or bowl with granola and yogurt in the mornings.

However, berries are expensive! This means I can’t eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

I don’t eat berries 24/7 (even though my family thinks I do), and I can’t in any case.

My weekly food bill will go through the roof, and I may need a second job to afford my berry-eating habit.

But just why are berries so costly?

Why Are Berries So Expensive?

There are six main reasons why berries are expensive. Berries are fragile, and this sets in motion a few of the reasons that add up the production costs. Berries need to be hand-picked to ensure they aren’t bruised, so manual labor that is more time-consuming than machine-harvesting increases the price of berries. With their fragility comes a short shelf life, so to extend this, berries need to be refrigerated from post-harvest until they are bought. From there, keeping the berries cool becomes the consumer’s responsibility. Berries also need to be carefully packaged, this adds the cost of labor and packaging material. Other factors that drive up the price of berries are the loss allowance cost that distributors and retailers include, growing berries on premium land or where there are finite/expensive resources, and the fact that people pay more for foods that are healthy.

Reasons Why Berries Are So Costly

Here are the top 6 reasons why berries are so expensive:

Reason 1: Manual Labor

Most things these days are automated with machines doing the work.

Berry picking or harvesting is a little different.

Sure, machines can harvest berries, but most often the berries are damaged or bruised – machines, after all, don’t (yet) have the delicate touch a human’s hands have.

Moreover, machine-harvesting compromises the freshness of the berries, resulting in an even shorter shelf life.

Thus, most berry harvesting is done by hand – or human labor, which is time-consuming and costly.

However, the tradeoff is a better quality berry that’s been carefully picked and handled with care.

Reason 2: Fragile and Short Shelf Life

Berries don’t have a thick outer skin that protects them like other fruits.

So they are fragile.

With this fragility comes a very short shelf life.

Strawberries are generally the worst.

You think you can eat them, only to discover they are half shriveled up and mold is suddenly growing on them.

Even raspberries aren’t much better as mold can even grow in the little caps.

Reason 3: Location

Berries don’t just grow anywhere or under any conditions.

Instead, they thrive where humans do.

So if berries are grown in populated areas, their cost increases because resources, land, and materials are more finite.

Moreover, berries can be grown in climate-controlled conditions.

But if they aren’t, then they only do well where the summers are mild.

In the U.S., these areas only have land available at a premium, so again, the price of berries just keeps increasing.

Reason 4: Chill Time and Transportation

After the berries have been harvested, they need to be chilled for every next step until they are sold.

And even after you’ve bought them and taken them home, they should go in the fridge too.

Refrigerating the berries ensures they stay fresh; however, this isn’t free.

Usually, shippers and retailers share this cost.

The retailers need cold chain management at their distribution centers and in their stores.

Reason 5: Loss Allowance

Loss allowance is also worked into the cost of berries.

This means when any of the produce is spoiled or bruised in transit.

Plus, there is a loss allowance cost worked in from the store’s side for the berries that aren’t bought before their expiry date or if the fruits spoil before then.

Reason 6: Packaging

Berries also need packaging, whereas apples, for example, don’t really.

The packaging doesn’t just include the cost of the packaging material.

There is also the labor involved.

All these costs add to the overheads.

Reason 7: They Are Healthy

People tend to pay more for produce and other items that are “healthy.” And yes, berries are definitely healthy.

They are high in antioxidants, fiber, many nutrients like vitamin C, manganese, and folate, and they have anti-inflammatory properties to name a few of the health benefits.

How Can You Get Berries Cheaper?

There are a few ways you can get berries cheaper, and trust me, I’ve investigated these thoroughly:

  • Buy from your local fruits and veggie markets, especially if farmers sell berries directly.
  • Grow your favorite berries in your garden or a window sill in your kitchen.
  • Buy frozen berries in bulk when it is on special or at a discount.

Frequently Asked Questions About Why Berries Are So Expensive

Why are frozen berries so expensive?

Both fresh and frozen berries are expensive. This costliness is due to various factors, including the cost of production, which includes mostly handpicking the berries, the cost of transporting berries from the farm to shops or markets, the short lifespan of berries, and the seasonality. However, frozen berries are, generally, slightly less expensive than buying berries fresh.

Are frozen berries unhealthy?

Frozen berries are not unhealthy. In fact, they are just as healthy as their fresh counterparts since they retain the same nutritional values as freshly harvested berries.

Are strawberries good for you?

Eating strawberries provides you with many health benefits. These red berries are packed with fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Plus, they are a low-calorie food, as well as sodium and cholesterol-free. Thus, strawberries help support your heart health, boost your immunity, regulate your blood sugar, and lower your blood pressure.

The Final Berry

The fact that berries are healthy and we should be eating “good” food is definite, but it comes at a cost.

Berries are expensive, and rightly so for many reasons, ranging from the manual labor involved to how fragile they are that they need to be refrigerated to prolong their shelf life.

How expensive berries are justifies everything that’s involved in producing them, plus the health benefits you stand to gain.

It simply means how much you (and I) eat needs to be limited so we can stay within our budgets.