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Peak Quality more asparagus and blueberries

Peak Quality's business strategy consists of consolidating its foothold in markets where it is already present, such as Spain, the largest European market for its exports, followed by the Netherlands, the UK and Italy, prior to further expansion.

Located in the city of Ica, 300 kilometres south of Lima, Peak Quality is a company founded in 2005 dedicated to the cultivation, packaging and export of fresh green asparagus.

“We’re a production company with 200 ha of our own cultivation. We also buy in produce from other certified farmers in the area but our aim is to gradually increase our own production area in the years to come.” said head of operations Carlos Aparcana.

The company shifts an annual volume of 900,000 5kg boxes, exporting 60% to the US and 40% to Europe.

Although today the firm is 100% dedicated to asparagus, it is seeking to diversify its production, starting with blueberry cultivation, the first harvest of which was due in August this year.

The goal for 2017 will be to find new growth areas for both products.

Peak Quality’s business strategy consists of consolidating its foothold in markets where it is already present, such as Spain, the largest European market for its exports, followed by the Netherlands, the UK and Italy, prior to further expansion.

“Our added value is that, being a medium-sized company, we are able to provide a fast response and personalised attention in line with the customers’ needs. We also aim to have ongoing production, to be able to supply asparagus year-round,” Aparcana said.

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Delta Berries: diversification and integration for growth

The blueberry grower Delta Berries is a packer and exporter located in the Concordia region, which supplies 50% of Argentina’s total blueberry volume,.

This blueberry grower, packer and exporter is located in the Concordia region, which supplies 50% of Argentina’s total blueberry volume, in the province of Entre Ríos. The company was set up 10 years ago and three years ago began to export directly, showing constant growth.

Today it has a foothold in the USA, Europe and almost every Asian market. Director Victor Trigo explains. “We’re trying to make inroads with alternative products such as frozen or dried blueberries. As blueberry production in Argentina only covers 2½ months of harvest, we’ve been obliged to look for complementary products, such as pecan nut, which allows us to exercise constant insertion into markets and explore investment diversification with new products.”

With 10 ha of its own and 14 leased, the company produces varieties which can be classed as new, like Sunny Ridge and Primadonna, along with other second-generation items, such as Emmerald. In Concordia, the sector has managed to rejuvenate itself based on the conversion of varieties, with very satisfactory acceptance, which gave other farmers the confidence to try out these varieties, mainly Snow Chaser.

“As we are a small business, we are driven by the need to make a space for ourselves among the big fish and this obliges us to keep a close eye on alternatives, being highly efficient with our costs and able to apply a policy of integration with other producers in order to survive. This is generating very interesting growth for us in annual terms, around 50%, and we intend to continue growing to achieve our infrastructure’s full potential, with an 800-ton fumigation and cold storage capacity and 400 tons in packing.”

 

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Hortifrut & Munger Brothers, LLC to merge

To be called Munger-Hortifrut North America, Inc., the new subsidiary of Hortifrut S.A. will manage its North American berry operations

Munger Brothers, LLC (California, US) and Hortifrut S.A. (Santiago, Chile) – both Naturipe Farms partners – have signed a memorandum of understanding to merge the Munger’s berry business with Hortifrut, S.A.

To be called Munger-Hortifrut North America, Inc., the new subsidiary of Hortifrut S.A. will manage its North American berry operations.

The merger means the formation of a consolidated global berry organisation with operations in Washington, Oregon and California in the US as well as in Canada, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Europe, Africa and Asia, Naturipe Farms said in a media release.

Munger Brothers, LLC is the largest North American fresh blueberry producer, with over 1,200 ha in the premier producing regions from British Columbia to Washington, Oregon, California and Mexico.

“We are extremely proud and honoured to join hands with the Munger family, whom we have known for well over a decade and with whom we have successfully collaborated on a wide range of berry projects,” Hortifrut S.A. founder and chairman Victor Moller said in the release.

“With this unique event in the produce industry, we have integrated berry production across the spine of the Pacific coast line from British Columbia in the north to the southern tip of Chile,” he said.

Naturipe Farms CEO Dwight Ferguson said the merger of the two Naturipe Farms grower-owners will be a natural extension of the collaboration they have long enjoyed. “Both are leading berry companies, highly innovative with experienced and knowledgeable management teams who have consistently focused on exceptional customer and consumer experiences,” he said.

The merger, expected to be accomplished during the fourth quarter of 2016, is subject to conditions including approval by Hortifrut S.A. shareholders and various third parties, the release says.

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Ser.mac presents Daytona Blueberry

The Daytona blueberry grader has a versatile, low-impact feed-in and can be adapted to the different requirements of each client in terms of both   workloads and speed.

The new product that Ser.mac launched at Fruit Logistica 2016 in Berlin is called Daytona Blueberry.

It is an electronic grader specially designed for blueberries that provides accurate non-invasive sorting based on colour, diameter and quality.

Daytona Blueberry has a versatile, low-impact feed-in and can be adapted to the different requirements of each client in terms of both workloads and speed. The new Agrovision technology ensures uniform selection to meet the quality standards the market demands.

Daytona Blueberry is about to be launched on different markets with a highly innovative electronic system developed in-house.

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Agroberries leading Southern Hemisphere supply

Agroberries has more than 500ha of blueberries planted between Chile and Argentina.

Agroberries is consolidated as one of the Southern Hemisphere’s leading exporters, producing in Chile, Argentina, Mexico and the US.

In 2014 the company traded 25 million kilos of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, mainly to markets in the US (60%), the UK and continental Europe. Now, the company is in the midst of an expansion process.

“We plan to invest 12 million dollars in the next couple of years in Chile, Argentina, México and the US. We are also looking with great interest into Peru,” said general manager Juan Pablo Spoerer. The strategy involves duplicating the planted surfaces, introducing highly resistant varieties as well as technology and information system improvements.

Agroberries has more than 500ha of blueberries planted between Chile and Argentina. Exports this season from Chile alone are estimated at around 8,000 tons, representing 20% more than last year. “In Argentina we have exported 1,800 tons this season, showing growth of 80% – making the company Argentina’s number one blueberry exporter,” Spoerer said.

The company recently announced a strategic alliance with S&A Produce Ltd, a leading UK distributor. SAB Produce, the new company with shared ownership, will be in charge of marketing fruit coming from the Americas, Europe, Morocco and Egypt into the European market. Asia is another market with huge potential for growth.

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Promotion pays off for Chilean blueberries

Chile is now the largest exporter of blueberries worldwide and the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest producer, benefitting from the contrasting seasons.

After last season’s cold spells, Chilean blueberry exports this campaign reached 91,000 tons, meaning growth of roughly 22% on 2013/14 (74,653 tons), but only 5% on the previous season. The main markets are the US and Canada (67%), followed by Europe (23%) and Asia (10%), two markets currently growing in demand. This growth in the ‘new’ markets of Europe and Asia evidences the promotional and marketing efforts by exporter companies and the Blueberry Committee, which with the help of ProChile have dedicated consistent work and resources to the promotion of Chilean blueberries. “We believe this effort has definitely led to an increase in blueberry consumption in different markets worldwide, creating greater business opportunities for all concerned”, said Blueberry Committee CEO Andrés Armstrong.

Growing markets

In the case of Asia, the countries leading the growth of Chilean blueberry consumption are China and South Korea, where Chile has established phytosanitary protocols and which have now surpassed Japan, another country of interest in the region. “In Europe, the growth of blueberry exports to the port of Rotterdam in Holland highlights the impact of the Committee’s promotional campaigns in countries like Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway in Scandinavia, as well as the United Kingdom, which is the main destination market in Europe for Chilean blueberries”, adds the Blueberry Committee CEO. For next season, Chilean Blueberry and ProChile will keep up their promotional effort in these markets, in addition to the US and Canada, looking to open up new channels and consumer segments. They are also currently working on new phytosanitary agreements with India. 

Images courtesy of Chilean Blueberry Committee: http://www.comitedearandanos.cl/

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Argentina’s blueberry sector has its eyes on Asia

Although the US and the EU are the most valuable export destinations, the ABC (Argentinian Blueberry Committee) is currently working alongside national organisations to open up new Asian markets.

Prolonged rains and a cold spring, resulting from the El Niño current, led to a slow start to the 2015 season. In any case, the pace soon picked up again, closing the year with volumes only slightly lower than the previous campaign. Although original forecasts predicted roughly 18,000 tons, the campaign is likely to end up at around 14,600, reports Inés Peláez, general manager of the Argentine Blueberry Committee.

New horizons

Although the US and the EU are the most valuable export destinations, the ABC (Argentinian Blueberry Committee) is currently working alongside national organisations to open up new Asian markets. Among them is Japan, which closed in 2010. Since then, ongoing exchanges with the country have taken place in an attempt to move negotiations forward. China has also become a priority as a new strategic market.

One important breakthrough was the recent visit by the technical team from AQSIQ (General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine) from China. This was the first ever visit, made to carry out inspections in the producer provinces of Salta, Tucumán and Buenos Aires. This is the first stage of assessment of the fields, pests and plant health risks.

“All the signals are good and we think that we shall soon be able to open up this huge Asian market,” said Inés Pelaez from the Argentinian Blueberry Committee. The committee is currently working jointly with SENASA to draft the necessary reports, as a first step towards the future realisation of a protocol.

There will also be other exchanges between plant health agencies, in the hope that 2016 will be the year the Chinese market finally opens up to Argentine blueberries. “The volumes now being exported by our neighbours in Chile amount to scarcely 20% of Argentina’s output. This makes China an even more interesting market for us,” Peláez said.

Quality and good flavour

Despite the development of the sector in other Latin American countries such as Peru and the potential competition, Argentina has conditions that other countries lack and the biggest challenge is raising awareness and appreciation of the quality and good taste of Argentine blueberries. Thanks to this, as different production areas are producing and exporting, if any unforeseen climatic event occurs in Argentina, another area can cover the shortfall so that the market is not undersupplied. This is why supply from Argentina is very consistent, notwithstanding what might occur throughout the season. What customers value is the stable market, consolidated over the past 20 years, with consistency of supply and reliability of all the exporters and the country in general. 

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Ongoing growth in UK berry sales

International Strawberry Symposium 2020: programme for the IX edition published

There’s been strong growth in retail sales of berries in the UK in the past year.

Driven predominantly by shoppers buying berries more often, along with a slight increase in the number of shoppers buying berries, and price inflation, the berries and currants market was worth just over £1 billion from 170,220 tons for the 52 weeks to December 6, 2015, having grown 16.8% in value and 12.8% in volume on the previous year, according to Kantar Worldpanel. The frequency of berry purchasing among berry shoppers rose 10.4% to an average of 18.1 trips with an average of 400g per trip.

Kantar Worlpanel data on berries & currants market

The strawberry market

Strawberries accounted for nearly 71% of all the berries sold in the UK.

The strawberry marked gained 10.9% in value and 8.2% in volume for respective totals of £546.7 million and 119,792 tons. According to Kantar Worldpanel, this growth was predominantly driven by shoppers buying strawberries more often, along with new shoppers and price inflation.

Kantar Worlpanel data on strawberries market

Strong growth in sales of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries

Blueberries, with 28,140 tons sold, accounted for 16.6% of berries sold, with sales worth £257.5 million, value growth of 26.9% and volume growth of 30.5%. This was predominantly driven by more shoppers buying blueberries, along with shoppers buying them more frequently and more per trip, Kantar Worldpanel said.

Worth £197.9 million from 18,358 tons sold, the raspberry market clocked 21.5% in value growth and 23.2% in volume growth. This growth was attributed to new shoppers and shoppers buying raspberries more often.

The blackberry market remains the smallest of the four, with a spend of £30.6 million from 2,786 tons, but enjoyed 20.3% value growth and 6.7% volume growth. “New shoppers and price inflation were key to growth, whilst there was a decline in trip volume,” Kantar Worldpanel said.

I, Prathyush Thomas [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

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Report on the benefits of berry imports in US

Off-season berry purchases in the US are still small relative to in-season domestic production, indicating the potential for off-season supply has only been partially tapped.

What is the value to US consumers of the recent increase in the availability of fresh berries in winter? And how large would the consumer benefits be if these berries were available at in-season (spring) prices during the off-season (winter) in the United States?

These were questions examined in the report ‘Measuring the Impacts of Off-Season Berry Imports’ published last month by the USDA’s Economic Research Service.

“Findings suggest that additional supplies of these fruits from domestic off-season and foreign producers are especially valuable to consumers because they occur in winter months, when domestic fruit production is relatively low, consumers’ choices are fewer than during spring, and prices are high,” the report says.

“Findings also suggest that consumers would benefit from further reductions in seasonal production cycles. However, consumers receive larger benefits from making off-season berries available (having some berries rather than none) than from increasing supplies to the extent that off-season prices fall to in-season levels.”

The report says that the factor driving these consumer benefits is prices falling over the winter months—the difference between choke prices and market prices in the weeks in which Chile exports fruit. “On average, these declines range from 49% (blackberries) to 69% (strawberries).” (Chile exports strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries during fall and winter. Mexico has also become a major supplier of berry crops to the US during winter but the study used Chile’s export season as a benchmark.)

The report says consumers would reap ever bigger ‘welfare’ gains should winter prices fall the level of spring ones, “which might occur if other countries began supplying the U.S. market or if there are advances in technology (either through improvements in domestic storage or shipping).”

Off-season berry purchases in the US are still small relative to in-season domestic production, indicating the potential for off-season supply has only been partially tapped. “Further advances in plant breeding or storage technology might make off-season supply quantitatively similar to in-season supply. Additionally, technological changes might reduce the cost of interhemispheric shipping, eliminating seasonality in the quantity of produce available.” the report also says.

Other interesting information in the report includes:

  • Per capita availability of fresh fruit is increasing in the US, rising from 106.50 pounds in 1980 to 131.04 pounds in 2012.
  • The berry share of fresh fruit availability increased 3.75 times (to 9.50 pounds by 2012).
  • Until the early 2000s, berries were unavailable to most U.S. consumers outside of their short domestic production seasons.
  • In 2012, fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries) accounted for 16% of the retail spend on fresh fruit.
  • Highest monthly shipment numbers occur in June for blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
  • Shipments of strawberries are highest in May each year.
  • Retail strawberry prices in late December have been twice that of prices in May in recent years.

source: ‘Measuring the Impacts of Off-Season Berry Imports‘ by Carlos Arnade and Fred Kuchler, Economic Research Report No. (ERR-197) 35 pp, October 2015

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Lower blueberry volumes in Argentina

The Argentine Blueberries Committee (ABC) therefore doubts that the auspicious estimates of week 37 will be fulfilled; in fact, everything points to a 12% decrease in fruit volume on 2014, which would mean a total of around 14,500 tons for Argentina.

The late spring frosts are the main focus of attention of Argentine producers; however, nobody expected such a low start of the 2015 season. In addition, the El Niño threat is still dormant, since the forecast is for a rainy season.
The Argentine Blueberries Committee (ABC) therefore doubts that the auspicious estimates of week 37 will be fulfilled; in fact, everything points to a 12% decrease in fruit volume on 2014, which would mean a total of around 14,500 tons for Argentina.
Nonetheless, production is expected to resume its normal rhythm as of week 43/44, bringing a breath of fresh air to Argentine blueberries producers and exporters.  

Early Crop expects a productive growth of 30%

During 2014, Early Crop exported around 1,400 tons of Fresh Blueberries and around 600 tons of IQF blueberries (frozen), a significant increase on the 2013 season. With about 450 ha of its own production, located in the best agro-ecological Argentinian regions for the development of this crop, this year it expects a volume of about 1,800-2,000 tons for fresh and 700 for IQF and by 2018 to reach about 3,000 and 1,000 tons respectively.
The commitment of supplying the unattended demand during the Northern Hemisphere counter-season, together with state-of-the-art technology, resulted in a significant 30-40% productive annual growth.
Around 60% of the production is marketed in the US. New strategic commercial partnerships in the UK (24% of exports) as well as in Northern European markets, together with a consolidation of its own organic production (60%) enabled the company to maximise results.
Manuela Leyba highlights the fact that, “airfreight costs definitely raise the price of the end product, causing restrictions when evaluating new destinations.”
Strictly committed to quality and sustainability, Early crop aims to create economic and social environmental value throughout its management, following international quality and production standards. “Fair trade is part of our mission. We aim at improving the wellbeing of our people and local community,” Leyba said.