Posted on

Strikes compromise start of Argentine lemon campaign

Strikes compromise start of Argentine lemon campaign © Radio ATE FM Argentina

© Radio ATE FM Argentina

 

The start of Argentina’s lemon season has been hit by a series of strikes in the country’s main production region, Tucuman. Self-organising workers blocked roads in different points of the province and prevented the passage of trucks transporting citrus, according to La Nación. The blockades also take place at the accesses to farms and packing plants.

The protesters reportedly rejected the 40.6% salary increase agreed last March between the Argentine Union of Rural Workers and Stevedores (Uatre) and the Citrus Association of Northwest Argentina (Acnao), within the framework of the labour negotiations. The sector claims that the increase is actually 25%, while the remaining 15% corresponds to an increase that had been reached in 2020.

Víctor Santillán, one of the spokesmen of the self-convened harvesters, said: “We demand that they reopen the bargaining agreements because what they signed is a starvation agreement. They say that 40% is an achievement, but it is 25% with 15% from last year. We earn a wage of 1700 pesos (US$18), which with taxes is 1350 pesos (US$14). It is not enough for anything.” 

The workers are demanding the reopening of the labour unions to set a daily wage of 2,500 pesos (US$27).

Meanwhile, Acnoa and Uatre defended the agreement reached in March and alleged that there were political interests behind the protest. The entities reportedly warned that “minority sectors outside the activity with political interests are carrying out roadblocks and blocking access to farms and production facilities, thus paralysing the functioning and operation of the companies and workers at the beginning of the citrus season”.

The development comes just after the European Union announced that it had revoked a ban on Argentina citrus imports implemented in August due to a high number of citrus black spot interceptions.

Posted on

EU ends ban on Argentine citrus imports

EU ends ban on Argentine citrus imports © Plantaciones de Limon

© Plantaciones de Limon

 

The European Commission has lifted its ban on citrus imports from Argentina. Trade was suspended last August following a number of interceptions of Citrus Black Spot in shipments. Argentina’s plant health authority Senasa said the new measure would come into effect on 1 May.

Senasa’s president, Carlos Paz, said the lifting of the ban followed concerted efforts by the public and private sectors to strengthen control measures in the field and packhouse and increase the number of staff on its regional teams in order to improve the monitoring and supervision of citrus exports.

Citrus accounts for four out of every ten fruits that Argentina exports and the EU is one of its biggest markets, taking around 200,000 tons of citrus in the last five years.

The measures and conditions for the re-entry of citrus fruit to the EU include additional actions that must be carried out both by the different actors of the private and public sectors.

These include mandatory field application of phytosanitary treatments against Black Spot; official verification of the application of these treatments; laboratory analysis of the fruit sampled both in the field and in packaging when suspicious symptoms of the disease are detected; official communication to the EU of the lists of production units and names of the companies responsible for the units, as well as updates to these lists.

Posted on

Argentina’s drought-affected lemon crop to shrink by 30%

Argentina’s drought-affected lemon crop to shrink by 30%
Photo: Citrusvil Argentina

Argentina’s citrus sector is undergoing difficult times due to a drought that has reduced fruit size.  Fresh lemon production for 2020/21 is projected to plummet by 30% to 1.03 million tons, according to FAS/Buenos Aires data. Lemons were particularly affected by low temperatures early in the growing season. The drought will limit orange and tangerine production increases to 700,000 tons and 360,000, which nevertheless represent 50,000 ton increases for both fruits compared to 2019/20.

Lemon exports in 2020/21 are projected to fall 23% to 190,000 tons, due to the smaller crop, larger Northern Hemisphere supply, strong competition from South Africa, and uncertainty regarding the EU measures to tackle Citrus Black Spot. Sweet citrus exports are estimated at 80,000 tons for oranges and 35,000 tons for tangerines, which are both significantly lower than historical levels. The country’s citrus sector is dealing with challenging domestic economic conditions, which have reduced Argentina’s ability to compete in export markets against other Southern Hemisphere exporters, especially South Africa.

 

Posted on

Argentine blueberry season wrapped up with stable numbers and higher sea shipments

Argentine blueberry season wrapped up with stable numbers and higher sea shipments

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, Argentina exported 11,000 tons of fresh blueberries and 3,500 tons of frozen blueberries in 2020 season, meeting the initial projections.

The pandemic has greatly modified the scenario, both in the way of working, harvesting and packaging, where strict operating protocols were established, and in the markets. Nonetheless, Argentina managed to keep its production volume stable, around 18,000 tons, of which 11,000 were exported fresh, 3,500 frozen and 3,000 were destined to the domestic market. Federico Baya, President of the Argentine Blueberry Committee (ABC), explained that “challenges remain wide and varied: continue to consolidate the logistical change to maritime transport in order to reach the markets with more efficient costs and to be able to resist the sustained drop in prices; continue working on quality from the farm so that Argentine fruit continues to be recognized; and, from the social responsibility point of view, amplify the work carried out in the last 3 years with the PAR Project, and the development of the Social Compliance System for the prevention of child labor and the protection of adolescents”.

High demand, low prices

Baya said that Argentina has been very clear in the commercial strategy, which is focused on improving quality, and increasing the proportion of sea shipments and organic fruit. The distribution of exports was similar to previous years, allocating 65% to the U.S. and Canada, 30% to the European Union and United Kingdom, and 5% to Asia. “Demand was good, but prices have fallen again due to the additional volume pressure applied by Peru, which went from 105,000 to 140,000 tons in the Argentine window from August to December. We continue to work to increase supply of organic blueberries to differentiate ourselves”.

60% of sea shipments

The greatest impact of the pandemic was the reduction in the number of planes and flights, and therefore the increase of air fares, which forced the sector to send much of the fruits by sea transportation. “We knew that this was going to happen and that we had to have quality to increase maritime shipments. So, we managed to reach almost 60% of maritime shipments this year, when in the past we had never exceeded 30%”. In this sense, Baya stressed that the cost of transportation is really crucial in competitiveness. While the cost of air transport is around USD 2.50/kilo, sea transport has a cost of USD 0.50/kilo.

Ignacio Luparia, Director of Padwor Logistics S.A, an Argentine international logistics company with offices in Argentina, Peru, Chile and Uruguay, said “we highlight the preparation of many of the exporters for the maritime shipment of merchandise and the order and professionalism with which it was done. We also highlight the start of the season in early August, ending shipments in the first weeks of December, which considerably widened the loading window and avoided the famous bottlenecks or peaks in the provision of logistics services”. This season, Pawdor Logistics S.A. offered the monitoring of temperatures along the whole trip every 48/72 hours, giving visibility of its behavior to shipper/cnee, thus ensuring the provision of cold throughout the journey of the fruit to its destination. “We believe and trust that year after year the volumes of maritime shipments will increase considerably given the replacement of varieties suitable for maritime transits that many of the main producers are or have been carrying out in recent years”.

Ignacio Diaz Walker, Director of Interalmar, a company dedicated to providing international transport and logistics solutions, considered the Argentine blueberry season very positive since they have achieved a significant increase in their participation in the multimodal logistics market. “From a strictly logistical point of view, this campaign has been decisive in terms of adapting to the new regional scenario, and Argentina has shown that has done its job. Large exporters have already consolidated the change from air shipments to sea shipments, while smaller-scale exporters have managed with a lot of effort, to successfully adapt to this complex scheme”.

From Liventus S.A., a pioneer in controlled and modified atmosphere technologies in South America, explained that this season the quantity of exported containers increased, doubling the volume to the European continent and making the first air shipment to Asia, with good results. Regarding the next season, Consuelo Vallejos did not dare to make projections, but she anticipated that “there should be a small increase in volumes, mainly in the organic program, in which the main exporters have stood out this last season”.

Finally, Facundo Ramírez, Perishables Manager at Loginet S.A., highlighted the sector’s search for constant improvements in terms of technologies and the rapid adaptation and evolution they had to turn to maritime. “It is one of the few sectors that works as a team to be able to get ahead. We see that the sector is on the right track, seeking to open new markets and get out of the traditional way to reach places where other countries are not focused”. Loginet S.A. is a cargo agent with more than 25 years of experience in the perishable sector, linked to the Argentine blueberry sector for 10 years. Ramirez commented that although the technologies used is the containers have been the same for several years, tests are constantly being carried out on the percentages of gases to see possible improvements in the evolution of the fruit. In this sense “there are some thermographers that have GPS and allow an online report of the temperature, percentages of gases and the location of the container. This is very useful for possible claims or presenting insurance in any eventuality”.

Looking at 2021

ABC’s focus for next year is to continue working on the same lines of action: development of the internal and external markets with the campaigns “Better with Blueberries” and “Taste the Sweetness, Enjoy the Difference”, extend the test pilot that was made in 2020 of the Social Compliance System to more producers, and continue with the same enthusiasm in the more than 10 commissions that every day work for the improvement of the industry.

Posted on

Global Fruit Point: Regular Demeter Pome Fruit Program from Argentina

Global Fruit Point: Regular Demeter Pome Fruit Program from Argentina
Press release & foto by: Stock Global Fruit Point GmbH  

Last week Global Fruit Point successfully renewed its organic audit, which also included an update of the Demeter certification.

What began in March last year with the first arrival of William’s pears at the port of Rotterdam has developed into a regular program with biodynamic pome fruit from Argentina. By now, Global Fruit Point commercializes Demeter certified pears of the varieties William’s, Red Bartlett, Packham’s, Abate Fetel, Beurré Giffard, D’Anjou, and Forelle. For apples, the product range comprises Royal Gala, Cripps Pink, Pinova, Fuji, Braeburn and Granny Smith.

Up to now, the company has concentrated on apples and pears from the Río Negro region which are sourced through Patagonian Fruits Trade. Thies Claussen, QA manager of Global Fruit Point: “Thanks to our long-standing partnership we could build on the existing trustful relationship, and so it was only a logical consequence to extend our cooperation to Demeter products”.

With the Demeter program, Global Fruit Point is following the demands of the market, as there is an increasing interest in fruit that not only meets the minimum requirements of the EU Organic Regulation, but also the much stricter standards of growers’ associations such as Demeter.

For the time being Global Fruit Point’s biodynamic offer is limited to an exclusive range of Demeter apples and pears – although an extension to other products at a later date is not excluded.

About Global Fruit Point GmbH:

Global Fruit Point GmbH, based in Buxtehude near Hamburg, specialises in the direct import of fresh fruit from overseas, both from conventional and organic cultivation. Among the most important products are grapes, apples, pears, stone fruits and citrus fruits, but also berries, melons, avocados, mangoes, pineapples, and pomegranates. The company attaches particular importance to a close partnership with the producers and the absolute traceability of all products, which is why all producers are GlobalG.A.P. certified.

Global Fruit Point supplies food retailers and wholesalers in Germany and Europe with quality products directly from the port. An own branch in Rotterdam ensures professional quality control upon arrival of the goods and before loading to the customer. Modern handling structures in Rotterdam and Hamburg guarantee smooth logistics throughout Europe as well as the highest food safety and quality standards.

Posted on

The Peruvian grape season begins with prospects for growth in exports of premium varieties

The Peruvian grape season begins with prospects for growth in exports of premium varieties
Press release & photo: San Miguel

By the end of 2020, San Miguel begins its Peruvian grape season. From the North of the country, the company ships this fruit mainly to the United States and China. As a result of a number of measures taken to improve fruit quality, export volume grows, mainly Sweet Globe®, the most exported seedless variety in the world. 

Argentina, November 26, 2020.- San Miguel starts the 2020/2021 Peruvian grape season with great expectations and projections to increase production by almost one thousand tons. Almost 7,700 tons of this export fruit, mostly of the Sweet Globe® variety, will be sent from the South American country primarily to the United States and China.

In addition to the challenges that the company had to face to continue operating during the Covid-19 pandemic, this year temperatures were lower than the historical average in Peru.  Fortunately, the Peruvian grape season began without problems in November. “We have implemented a number of corrective measures that have allowed us to reach the harvest season having mitigated risks,” said Pablo Zócalo, Operations Manager at San Miguel in Peru. 

“The fruit looks very well, with well-formed and homogeneous clusters. We have been working hard to improve quality. We have put nets to prevent birds from reaching the trees in 70% of our fields and we have finished consolidating the packing operation into a single facility within the farm with the support of a strategic partner. This allows us to accelerate transfer times, minimizing dehydration losses and maximizing the use of this crop,” continued Pablo.

Peruvian grapes are exported mainly to the United States, followed by China and some European countries. This year we expect the Peruvian grape volume to grow 15% from the previous season, specially the premium varieties, which are mainly sent to this North American country. 

San Miguel has been growing its presence in the United States, consolidating in the 2019/20 season as the second Peruvian exporter of green seedless grapes to this country. The Sweet Globe® variety enters during a strategic window, in the California grape transition and prior to the entry of Chilean grapes. To complement the supply of green grapes, San Miguel also offers the Sugar Crisp® variety within this window. “At this destination our top focus is to develop greater depth in our programs with the main supermarkets. We have been working with these retailers for several years now” highlights Anya Jaworski, Avocado and Grape Manager at San Miguel 

On the other hand, China, the world’s largest grape producer, has been increasing its green seedless grape production. “The presence of local green seedless grapes helps a lot to drive demand in the counter-season because Chinese consumers start to incorporate them in their consumption habits and expect to find them in the shelves all year round. We enter in an early window, just before the Chinese New Year, with a premium quality grape. That is why we expect a good demand for the transition between their own fruit and counter-season fruit,” explains Anya Jaworski, Product Manager for Avocado and Grapes at San Miguel. 

All varieties commercialized by San Miguel from Peru are premium, seedless and have good flavor. Green grapes account for 74% of production, mostly Sweet Globe®, the most demanded variety and known as “the queen of green grapes” for its sweet flavor, great size and crunchy texture. On the other hand, 24% are Sugar Crisp® grapes, which are harvested and sent just when the shipments of the former are finishing (near New Year), complementing supply. As regards red grapes, the company commercializes Jack’s Salute®, the most demanded variety of this segment. 

In addition to usual sales, this year 2020 San Miguel has piloted the fall harvest of Sugar Crisp®, and this is the first time that double harvest for export is explored with this variety in Peru. Eighteen hectares were harvested and 12 containers were exported. Thanks to the success of this first experience, the company plans to conduct double harvest in 100% of Sugar Crisp fields (80 hectares) in 2021. 

San Miguel in Peru: The advantages of multi-origin production

In Peru, the Argentine company has more than 1,200 hectares where mandarins, avocado and grapes are produced. The major destinations for Peruvian fresh fruit are the United States, followed by Asia and Europe. The Argentine Company settled in Peru in 2017, when it purchased Agrícola Hoja Redonda S.A., adding a strategic point of origin due its exit to the Pacific Ocean.

San Miguel has operations in 4 of the major citrus producing and exporting countries in the Southern Hemisphere: Argentina, Uruguay, Peru and South Africa. Production in multiple points of origin enhances the company’s stability and sustainability, since it allows it to improve access to markets while contributing to mitigate the main risks associated to the activity, related to weather, phytosanitary and macroeconomic factors. This strong situation allows it to have an outlook into the future that takes into account the wellbeing of the nearby communities.

About San Miguel
San Miguel is the leading company in the Southern Hemisphere in the production and distribution of fresh citrus and natural citrus ingredients from different points of origin (Argentina, Uruguay, South Africa and Peru) to supply customers in more than 80 countries.
The company is constantly enlarging its product portfolio, developing new products and adding value at each stage of the production process, with Sustainability as a priority throughout its operation.
More information: www.sanmiguelglobal.com

Posted on

Argentine fresh fruit exports up 6% from 2019

Argentine fresh fruit exports up 6% from 2019
Photo: Trapani

Argentina’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries reports that exports of fresh fruits certified by the National Service of Health and Food Quality (Senasa) rose 6 percent in the first ten months of the year compared to the same period of 2019.

“This achievement is the product of a combination of forces, such as Argentine producers ceaseless work and the tireless efforts of Senasa, which had to adapt its tasks and adjust the controls to continue certifying the exports of the agri-food and agro-industrial complex in this framework of pandemic, showing that institutions are strengthened even in difficult times when there are accompanying public policies,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Luis Basterra.

Between January and October 2020, the decentralised body certified shipments of 797,220 tons of fresh fruits (citrus, pome fruits, grapes) against 751,871 tons in the same period last year.

Of the total of fresh fruits exported, 321,278 tons were pear; 247,985 were fresh lemon; 98,446 tons were apple; 73,956 tons were orange; and 32,767 tons were mandarin. The main destinations were the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States, among others. Shipments of blueberries, grapes, kiwi, pomegranate and cherry, among other fresh fruits, were also registered.

With respect to the same period of 2019, there was growth in exports of pear (11%), lemon (6%) and apple (5%), among others. The main destinations for the Argentine pear were Brazil, 91,794 tons; Russia, 85071; United States, 38,294 tons; and Italy, 25,367 tons.

The main markets for Argentina’s fresh lemon were Russia, 57,932 tons, United States, 33,536 tons, the Netherlands, 31,829 tons and Spain, 25,171 tons.

The main markets for orange shipments were Paraguay, 21,841 tons, the Netherlands, 13,284 tons, Russia, 9,772 tons, Spain, 6,880 tons and Iraq, 2,678 tons.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, and taking into account the preventive measures issued in a timely manner, Senasa agents operate in the country’s cargo terminals inspecting these products of plant origin and wooden packaging in commercial export operations.

Posted on

Argentine exports of fresh organic blueberries up 70% in 2019

Argentine exports of fresh organic blueberries up 70% in 2019

Argentina has comparative advantages to provide this growing market with multiple products from its regional economies due to the variety of climates, the fertility of its soil, its entrepreneurship and the possibility to supply on counter season. 

With 3.7 million hectares under organic monitoring during 2019, Argentina is the second largest country with certified organic surface in the world, only behind Australia. This is mainly because of the livestock production that occupies 3.4 million hectares, while the remaining 238 thousand hectares are destined to fruits and vegetable production. In this context, there is an important growth in the harvested area of blueberries that went from 156 hectares in 2011 to 1,001 hectares in 2019.

The production of blueberries in Argentina is located in a latitude where there is thermal amplitude and seasons well defined throughout the year that allows the production of a fruit with high content of sugar and therefore, sweeter. At the same time, the production is more natural, which is the result of soils rich in organic matter and nutrients, as well as a natural environment that does not favor the development of pests, allowing crops to be very healthy and environmental intervention to be minimal. All these added to the fact that the water quality is so good that it doesn’t need any type of intervention, results in organic production being able to occur very naturally.

Organic certification with approval for the UE, Japan and Switzerland

A fundamental characteristic that has made possible this prestigious position for the country from the beginning is its standard and control system. Facundo Soria, Coordinator at the Organic Production Area in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, explained that “since 1990 Argentina has organic regulations very similar in its requirement to that of the European Union, who immediately recognized us as a third country. This allowed us to quickly access and position ourselves as a reliable supplier in the main consumer market of organic products at that time. A fer years later, Argentina gave a legal protection to the entire system through the Law 25.127/1999.” Currently the Argentine organic certification has approval for the European Union, Japan and Switzerland, and is in negotiations to achieve equivalences with the United States and South Korea. “These equivalences allow us to reach more and more consumers. Argentine organic products, especially fruits, are highly recognized abroad, not only because of the country’s prestige and the endorsement given by the National Service for Agri-food Health and Quality (SENASA), but also because of the intrinsic quality of the products.”

Organic blueberry production was slow at first, and as knowledge spread, the growth was unstoppable. Francisco Estrada, representative of the Argentinean Blueberry Committee (ABC), explained that “in the Northwest (NOA), the climatic factor has allowed the transition to organic production to be made easily. In addition to the fact that there is a clear global trend for consumers to choose products with these characteristics.” In this area, between 80% and 90% of blueberry production is organic or is in the process of certification.

European Union and the United States, the main export markets

In 2019, Argentina exported 47,922 tones of organic fruits. The main productive provinces were Río Negro (40%), Tucumán (22%) and Chubut (17%). In Tucumán, lemons and blueberries are the highlight. The total exported volume of blueberries in its different categories went from 697,979 kilos in 2015 to 2,206,935 kilos in 2019. Regarding fresh blueberries, there was a growth of 70% in 2019 versus 2018, reaching 1,907 tons and ranking third in volume of organic fruits, behind pear and apple.

 

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Fresh Blueberries

330,846

293,954

714,349

1,123,744

1,906,879

Frozen Blueberries

 

 

212,185

185,834

300,056

IQF Frozen Blueberries

367,133

386,814

 

 

 

Blueberry marmalade with chia

 

 

35

 

 

Total

697,979

680,768

926,569

1,309,578

2,206,935

Source: National Service for Agri-food Health and Quality (SENASA)

Exports markets evolved through time. Until 2008, the main destination was the United Kingdom. That year the demand fell sharply. In 2010, the United States began showing growth that later turned out to be unstoppable and, shortly after, Europe equaled and even exceeded that demand. According to official data from SENASA, the main destinations for argentine organic blueberries were the European Union with 56% of the total and the United States with 39%. It is important to mention that, in the case of the U.S. market, the exported volume is surely much higher, since there is a universe of producers that only certifies with the U.S. certification and not with Argentina’s, so they are not accounted in the local statistics.

Development opportunities in Asia and the domestic market

According to Estrada, growth opportunities are important, first in the markets where Argentina is already present and has yet to make progress, such as the U.S., but also in those markets that are not yet developed like China, Southeast Asia and India, where the potential is huge.

The domestic market also represents an opportunity for development. In 2019 it represented 13,311 kilos, 0.7% of the total production volume, ranking fourth behind pears, apples and plums. In this sense, Soria stressed that “there is a boom in agroecological bags and, although there is no “agroecological” category of fruits as in the case of vegetables, generally that supply is complemented with organic fruits and that causes demand to skyrocket. This shows that the consumer is an increasingly conscious consumer, concerned about the food he eats.” In the same line, Estrada said that “in 4-5 years the local market will be very important because we are educating our children with more and more concern for health and the environment, and these children are beginning to define the purchases at their homes.”

 

Posted on

Citrusvil seeks to consolidate traditional and emerging markets

Citrusvil seeks to consolidate traditional and emerging markets
© Citrusvil 
PRESS RELEASE

 

Argentina exported around 242,000 tons of fresh lemon in 2020, a slight increase compared to 2019, although far from what was initially projected. According to Francisco Rotella, Citrusvil Fresh Fruit’s commercial manager, the season went through several stages, many of which were heavily affected by Covid-19.

The pandemic prompted consumers to turn to citrus fruits, including lemons for its high content of Vitamin C and its capacity to strengthen the immune system. The measures adopted to prevent the spread of the virus seriously impacted the crucial food service channel, especially in Europe and the United States. Moreover, Argentina decided to suspend lemon exports to Europe on July 1, 2020. This erratic scenario was reflected in the great price fluctuations, especially in Europe.

“At Citrusvil, we achieved exports of close to 27,000 tons. The 5,000 tons shipped to the United States market complied with the estimates made at the beginning of the campaign,” said Rotella. “This market is a destination on which Citrusvil will continue to focus in the coming seasons.”

Looking ahead to the next campaign, the company’s goal is to consolidate not only in traditional markets but also in so-called emerging markets, such as India and China, where Citrusvil is already working on commercial development. It will also seek to continue increasing its participation in other markets such as the Middle and Far East.

Positive balance of the pandemic

COVID-19 forced the Citrusvil organisation to adopt new protocols in its production processes in order to continue operating and guarantee the supply chain. To minimise the impacts, training of operational personnel was essential to ensure total adherence to prevention measures and protocols and the continuity of activity. This was achieved with a strong message to staff about the need to get the industry moving.

“This crisis has certainly generated a positive change in the culture of our company, where we have managed to adapt to the context, incorporating new health and safety protocols that have meant a great contribution to the industry in terms of food safety,” said Rotella. “All this will allow us to plan for the future and be prepared to overcome new risk situations as a reliable and sustainable supplier.

Posted on

Argentina gets ready for the 2020 blueberry season

Argentina gets ready for the 2020 blueberry season
© IDEP /// PRESS RELEASE

 

With productive zones implementing strict healthy and safety protocols and an industry working closer than ever towards common goals, the 2020 blueberry season kicks off in Argentina.

Argentina is one of the main players in the global market, exporting blueberries for over 20 years. Its geographical location gives it the advantage of having counter-season crop, which means it can supply during periods of low production in the countries of the Northern Hemisphere. This is why the main destinations are the U.S., which represents 60% of the total exports, followed by Continental Europe and U.K. with 30%, and Canada and Asia, that together account for 10% of the shipments. In recent years, Argentina’s exports have stagnated at around 15,000 tons, representing 10% of the total blueberry offer in the commercial window from August to December in 2019. This is why Argentina is seeking to position itself in the world’s blueberry industry as a niche player with comparative advantages and differentiation values. “We are committed to presenting a product with very high-quality standards that are reflected in the certifications of the good agricultural and social practices to which we subscribe” said Federico Bayá, president of the Argentine Blueberry Committee (ABC).

Federico Bayá, president of the Argentine Blueberry Committee (ABC) /// © ABC

 

The differentiation strategy is based in three pillars: taste, organic productions and responsible labor. For the fourth consecutive year, the Argentine blueberry sector is carrying out its “Taste the Sweetness & Enjoy the Difference” promotional campaign to emphasize the sweet acidified taste of the Argentinean fruit that, because it is produced in areas with “cold hours” has a distinctive flavor that differentiate it from the rest of the suppliers. An additional factor is the increasing trend of organic production, which this year will represent one third of the total produced volume.

Blueberry, a responsible crop

In an increasingly competitive world in which decent work is often not valued and the purchase is determined by the cost, Argentina has national labor, social and health and safety laws that are models worldwide. In 2015, Argentina subscribed to the Sustainable Development Goals established by the UN, amongst which Goal Number 8 is promoting sustainable economic growth with decent work and the prohibition and elimination of child labor as one of the main factors to be complied with. In addition to comply to these international guidelines and promote a production based on a triple impact, locally the ABC is part of the Enterprise Network against Child Labor and is governed by the Nacional Plan for the Prevention and Elimination of Child Labor and Protection of Adolescent Labor.

The ABC has developed a social strategy based on concrete actions in the three productive zones of the country. “As a productive sector, we are increasingly committed to the social issues that surround our cultivation, especially regarding Child and Adolescent Labor. There are a lot of myths around this topic and we want to generate the necessary debates to banish them” emphasized Bayá. “We have been working in a project for the past two years that implicated the elaboration of a protocol named Responsible Agricultural Production (P.A.R.) which will allow us to focus on 3 aspects: preventing, monitoring and attending child labor.”

Higher sea shipments to become more competitive

Given the lack of competitiveness that the Argentine blueberry is facing due to a an increasingly complex and more supplied global market, the sector has been able to make the effort in logistics to reduce costs. “We were used to a market that paid air freight to receive the fruit faster, but today, with an increasing number of players supplying the market constantly, we need to focus on a different way of transport”. This is a trend that has been going on during the past years, where the rate of sea shipments went from 2-3% in 2014 to 35% in 2019. In the middle of the pandemic, where there will be a lower frequency of commercial flights, it is projected that only 30% of the fruit will be exported by air freight.