A retailer in China held a ceremony this month to mark the first promoted import of fresh U.S. blueberries.

The three pallets of berries were grown by Norris Farms in the Umpqua River Valley of Oregon and shipped airfreight by Domex Superfresh Growers of Yakima, Washington, to Pagoda, a Chinese fruit retailer, according to a news release from trade organization U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. They will be sold in a limited number of stores in the Pearl River and Yangtze River deltas.

U.S. shippers gained access to the Chinese market in May 2020 when the Chinese government approved phytosanitary protocols after years of negotiation. Some blueberries reached mainland China on a trial basis last year but the coronavirus pandemic stymied promotion, said Jill Scofield, director of communications for the council.

—by Ross Courtney