Peru remained the world’s number-one source of blueberries in 2020, achieving a record export year in the process. The value of Peru’s blueberry shipments surpassed the US$1 billion mark, a jump of 23.4% on 2019, according to trade agency Adex, whose representative Lizbeth Pumasunco said, “From August to November we have an advantage, because the US and Canada do not harvest because it is winter, and in the case of Chile and Mexico they do not start their campaigns.”
Chile also shipped a record 118,225 tons of blueberries in 2020/21, up 8.2% on the previous year. The higher volume was due to an increase in planted area, the replacement of old plants with newer, more productive varieties and the introduction of the Systems Approach for exports from the Ñuble and Biobío regions, which enabled more fruit to be exported fresh rather than frozen.
The Chilean Blueberry Committee forecasts stable export volumes in 2020-21 despite the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The CBC is working to diversify its export markets, given the current overdependence on the US and China. Although shipments fell to Chile’s main market, the US (-13%), exports to Asia and Europe were up 20% and 8% respectively.
The CBC forecasts exports of fresh berries will be close to 111,000 tons in 2020/21, which is 2% more than in the previous campaign. Meanwhile, organic exports increased 16% and now account for 14% of the total volume.
© Fruit-Inform Agency
On September 17, Fruit-Inform Agency (Ukraine) will hold an international Zoom webinar on the highbush blueberry market in Eastern Europe. The event will be in English and combine blueberry production and trade experience from both Western and Eastern Europe.
There are several reasons for an event dedicated to blueberries: they are one of the most expensive and transportable berry crops with perfect taste and flavour; their production and consumption has been actively developing in both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres; and they are traded in Eastern Europe all year round.
The areas that the webinar will focus on are: blueberry production in Eastern Europe; blueberry imports, exports and price performance; minimisation of production and trade risks; and blueberry business development strategies.
Among the speakers, a representative of an international organisation will present market trends in the European market and globally and a representative of a European trader will present his/her view of the blueberry trade developments. There will also be blueberry growers from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus with their assessment of blueberry production, trade and market trends, as well as partners holding webinars about blueberry growing, handling and storage technology innovation. Lastly, a representative of Fruit-Inform will reveal the results of the key study “The Market for Highbush Blueberries in the Eastern Europe-2020”.
The North American Blueberry Council (NABC) and US Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) are taking their meetings online this year. Registration is now open for the NABC/USHBC Virtual Conference and Expo, taking place September 28th-October 1st, 2020. This is the first ever virtual blueberry industry event, and registration is free. As a virtual event, the fall meetings will be able to evolve into an online conference and expo where blueberry industry members can still gather to hear the very latest on the trends, programs and production, but also connect with colleagues, product ideas and sponsors.
The event will showcase blueberry industry leaders and gather the most important people in business, tech, genetics, innovation and more. Four days of exclusive committee meetings will be accompanied by industry showcases and interactive education for anyone who wants to learn more about the most pressing and important blueberry topics. Each day will start with a motivating keynote session from high-profile industry leaders and experts and will be followed by prominent, timely committee meetings on the state of the industry.
The virtual conference and expo will also feature giveaway activities, energizing lunch breaks and an awards ceremony recognising USHBC’s 20th anniversary and honouring key industry leaders. The USHBC 20th Anniversary Awards Program will recognise the leaders of the blueberry industry across every link in the blueberry supply chain. Growers, importers, exporters, packers/shippers, marketers and other blueberry industry stakeholders are eligible to win in one of several categories: Grower Innovation; Marketing & Promotions; Foodservice; Merchandising/Retail; Manufacturing/Advances in Blueberry Products; Export/Global Community Relations; Genetic Research.
Blueberry industry stakeholders are encouraged to nominate themselves or colleagues deserving of the recognition.
While the South African blueberry industry is relatively small compared to other local fruits, it is a fast-growing sector. Indeed, the area planted with blueberries is projected to increase by 17% in the 2020/21 campaign and reach 2,800 hectares, according to SABPA data. The country’s production area has grown at over 30% per annum over the past nine years, largely driven by continued investment by local blueberry growers and the entry of international growers, especially from Europe. The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has also been a driving force in developing the berry sector by funding various projects across the country and encouraging the establishment of an association, the South African Berry Producers Association (SABPA).
The Western Cape Province is the leading blueberry producing area in South Africa, accounting for over 60% of production, followed by Limpopo (15%), North West (10%), Gauteng (8%), and Eastern Cape (4%). The three biggest producers are Berryworld, Haygrove and United Exports.
Despite the escalating tensions between the two countries, China has announced it will allow imports of blueberries from the United States as of Thursday 14th May, according to notices on the country’s customs website. The move is part of an agreement signed in January to increase imports of US agricultural products by an additional $32 billion over two years as part of a Phase 1 deal to ease the trade war between the economic superpowers. The fruit must meet the relevant requirements.
In addition to blueberries, China is also to allow imports of US barley. The decision comes shortly after China accused its top supplier Australia of the practice of dumping. Australian grain producers have been informed that China might impose tariffs of over 80% on its barley. US barley exports total around 100,000 tons a year, while Australia’s are several million tons.
The demand for blueberries has been growing steadily in Europe in recent years. As such, many companies from different countries follow the trend. For years, frozen wild blueberries dominated the berry industry in Ukraine being one of most important export products for Europe.
Recently, cultivated highbush blueberries have also entered the market. If frozen wild blueberries market is ingredients B2B, then for cultivated blueberries main market is fresh consumption. Despite of similar name “blueberries” these two plans are from different families – Vaccínium myrtíllus (wild blueberries or European blueberry, or biberry) and Vaccinium corymbosum (cultivated high bush blueberries)
In Ukraine production of cultivated blueberries as industry just started few years ago. Most berries plantation are still relatively young yet – average age of blueberry farm in Ukraine is 3-4 years. Every year it can only be expected to yield higher production in Ukraine.
Irina Kukhtina, President of Ukranian Berries Association © Eurofresh Distribution Magazine
Currently, approximately 3000 hectares of land is producing blueberries in Ukraine. According to Kukhtina, they focus on “developing the businesses of their members by boosting business efficiency, providing market information, improving staff qualifications, and participating in international trade fairs.” UBA provides high quality berries to countries within the European Union while planning to expand their reach to Asia with China looking to be a viable market. Of course, even with the rising market, global competition and promotion has been a minor bump in the road especially for newcomers. Fortunately, the quality of their products speaks for itself and this year, they plan to establish long-lasting relationships with even more partner companies and institutions.
For inquiries: Irina Kukhtina; +38-044-561-6162, +38-067-487-3740; email@example.com; www.uaberries.com.au
© Alexandra Sautois, Eurofresh Distribution
Chile has recorded significant growth in its shipments of blueberries to the Far East, this season, with volumes up 31% from the previous campaign, according to data published by Asoex. The Asian market now accounts for 18% of the total export volume. North America has received 48% of the volumes of Chilean blueberries so far this season, 7% down on last season’s volumes. Europe has received 33% of shipments, with a growth of 3%.
Meanwhile, shipments of organic blueberries continue with the upward trend. During week 02, 1,457 tons were exported, accumulating to date 7,589 tons, 37% more than the previous season. North America continues to be the main destination with 73% of shipments, while Europe is second in importance, with 21% participation.
The total cumulative volume of fruit produced had reached 66,742 tons by Week 1 in the present campaign, practically the same level as at the same point in the 2018/19 campaign. However, despite the similarity in volume, harvest dynamics are very different. Early and mid-season varieties began the campaign earlier, which in some cases resulted in lower volumes due to shorter crops and lighter fruits. This has been offset by the increase in the volumes of later varieties from the central zone and the increase in surface area of the southern zone, which explain part of the volume recorded during week 02. If weather conditions remain favourable, the increase in production area and the renewed varieties should yield 5,000 tons more than last season, reaching 115,000 tons projected for this campaign.
Bionest has taken a leap in its production and will now offer its customers blueberries throughout the entire year. “This campaign, we will strengthen our ties with suppliers and customers by importing blueberry from South America to supplement our production and offer a year-round supply,” said Thomas Cera, marketing manager. Moreover, for the first time, Bionest will offer blackberry for ten months of the year. This allows the firm to offer mixed packaging formats made up of mini-kiwi, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry and goji berry. These tubs containing two or three different products add value and can also be marketed in more sustainable packaging. “We have cardboard packaging made from cellulose and kraft, and heat-sealed made from cardboard or cellulose, which requires a minimum amount of plastic use and is also compostable,” said Cera. Meanwhile, Bionest is presenting its new strawberry and raspberry varieties to several selected clients. These products should be launched by the end of 2020.
Peru’s blueberry industry has come a long way in a very short time. It is now the world’s leading supplier, with exports exceeding US$470 million (66,000 tons), up from just $465,000 in 2012. The leading Peruvian exporter is Camposol SA, with US$132.6 million (28% share).
The leading importer of Peru’s blueberries is the US, although volumes dropped slightly in 2019 due to the smaller crop. The next largest markets, the Netherlands and the UK, experienced a similar trend. The major market that saw an increase in imports of Peruvian blueberries was China, with volumes up 36% in 2019.