The long-term prospects for the global blueberry sector are very positive, with consumption robust despite an inflationary environment. This is the finding of the recently published RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness Blueberry Update 2023 report. Rabobank expects growth in the sector to continue as operational efficiency and premiumisation transforms the industry. North America, particularly the US, will remain the largest destination market for fresh and frozen blueberries, with Peru, Mexico, and Chile being the largest exporters in the fresh category.
“Supply-side challenges such as logistics and input costs are easing, but margin pressures will continue to prompt the industry to improve efficiency and productivity, including variety upgrades,” said David Magaña, senior analyst – fresh produce at Rabobank.
“The industry has also raised the bar in terms of fruit quality,” he continued. ”This will be critical for fostering further consumption growth. Despite the inflationary environment, consumption of blueberries in key markets has been quite robust. Adoption of new technology and varieties will be key to providing blueberries that will keep satisfying consumers globally.”
Over the past decade, global fresh blueberry exports have expanded steadily, driven by a diversifying base of growing regions, Rabobank pointed out. Countries with the highest growth rates in recent years include Peru, South Africa, Morocco, Mexico, Poland, and Spain. But the potential lingering effects of El Niño-related weather anomalies were likely to limit the rebound of Peruvian exports in 2024/25.
However, in the longer run, Rabobank forecast that global fresh blueberry exports would resume a growth trajectory as yields improved in Peru and exports from other growing regions continued to expand. By 2026/27, global fresh blueberry exports are expected to exceed 1m tons.
Peru, Mexico, and Chile remained the largest exporters in the fresh category, the report continued, but a warm winter in Peru delayed the harvest and negatively impacted yields and shipments. Blueberries and other berries represent the largest share by value of Mexico’s agricultural and food exports, and the berry industry is the fastest-growing agricultural industry in the country. Chilean fresh blueberry exports, on the other hand, have declined since the peak exports of the 2020/21 season, and further declines are expected in 2023/24.