Limited Availability: Huckleberries are typically found in specific geographic areas and have a limited growing range. They often thrive in higher elevations or specific forested regions. This limited distribution makes them harder to cultivate commercially and results in a relatively lower supply compared to other berries like blueberries.
Harvesting Challenges: Huckleberries are typically handpicked, which adds to the labor and time required for harvesting. Due to their delicate nature, picking huckleberries can be more time-consuming and labor-intensive compared to mechanically harvesting other berries. The added labor costs contribute to the overall price of huckleberries.
Seasonal and Short Harvest Window: Huckleberries have a relatively short harvest window, usually lasting only a few weeks or months, depending on the region and species. This limited availability increases the demand and drives up prices, especially for fresh huckleberries.
Wild Harvesting: While some efforts have been made to cultivate huckleberries, a significant portion of the huckleberry supply still comes from wild harvests. Wild-harvested huckleberries require careful foraging and can be more expensive due to the time, effort, and expertise needed to locate and collect them sustainably.
Popularity and Culinary Demand: Huckleberries are highly sought after by chefs, bakers, and culinary enthusiasts for their unique flavor and culinary applications. The demand for huckleberries, particularly in the gourmet and specialty food markets, can drive up prices.
Perishability and Shelf Life: Huckleberries have a relatively short shelf life compared to some other berries. They are highly perishable and require careful handling and storage to maintain their quality. The limited shelf life can lead to increased costs associated with transportation, storage, and wastage.
It's important to note that the price of huckleberries can also vary depending on factors such as regional availability, market dynamics, and the specific species of huckleberry. Prices may be higher in areas where huckleberries are less abundant or where they have gained a reputation as a premium or specialty ingredient.
In addition, covid prevented pickers from picking in 2020. 2021 pickers returned to the mountains but 2021 was not a good harvest. Then came 2022 - the perfect storm - what a terrible harvest. Three years of shortages on top of high fuel prices (pickers use alot of gas to scout and pick), increased wage pressures and an inflationary economy has pressured prices up from $7/lb to $20/lb for fresh hucks in five years.