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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:

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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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Chilean fruit exports back in full bloom


Chile’s most exported product worldwide will be table grapes, followed by apples, whilst there were strong increases in the exports of cherries and blueberries.

Last season 2013-2014, the central valleys of Chile suffered the worst frosts in the last 50 years, causing a significant decrease of around 11% in the country’s exports worldwide. The most affected products were kiwifruit (-48,5%); table grape (-15,1%)and blueberries (-14,5%), generating a loss of US$540 millions in export revenues. The port strikes, on the other hand, affected the flow of fruits and the distribution to external markets, plus effects on Chile’s image as a supplier. But, things are looking brighter this period for Chilean fruit exporters and growers.

Optimism for the coming season

Fruits from Chile expects optimal conditions for Chilean fruit export and harvest a positive increase for 2014- 2015. Authorities of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX), the Chilean Fruit Growers Federation (Fedefruta) and industry related committees, informed that Chile’s most exported product worldwide will be table grapes, followed by apples, whilst there were strong increases in the exports of cherries and blueberries. The difficulties of last season are overcome. In fact new markets are being prospected, existing markets strengthened and the climatic condition of this season are promising. Due to improved technologies, the introduction of more productive varieties, the high exchange rate and the considerable commitment of the industry´s workforce, Chile stands as the Southern Hemisphere’s largest shipper of fruit products. In addition, Chile benefits from particularly fertile soil, the sequential and contrasting seasonal harvests and its natural borders that protect the country from all kinds of pests and diseases. Furthermore Chile is according to the Global Food Security Index 2014 the leading country in Latin America when it comes to the quality of food produced.

Export outlook

Despite the devaluation of the ruble in Russia and the ban on imports from EU Member States and a higher Stocks of apples in Europe and the US, that may affect the Chilean Season, chileans have a good view of the near future. Carlos Cruzat, of Chilean Kiwi committee says: “We expect a recovery of the quantity for kiwi exports in the actual season. We are committed to undertaking a diverse range of programs to strengthen the position of Chilean kiwifruit in the international market place. We are focused on implementing and promoting the ripening of our fruits to be distributed ‘ready to eat’”. In regards to the other chilean fruits, in general, there is a positive perspective. An estimated export volumen of 800,000 tons of apples and 138,000 tons of pears is expected for this season 2015-16. Which, in the case of apples, is similar to the volumes exported last season, whilst for pears there is an expected 19% increase in volumen in regards to last season. At the end of the past export season of fresh chilean cherries, more than 100,000 tons would have been exported, with an increase of 45% in exports in comparison to the previous season, despite initial challenges caused by rainfall during the spring period. About 75% of the cherry harvest is shipped to Asia. Future forecasts predict that by 2016-17, cherries export volumes could surpass the 120.000 tones. Chilean blueberries are expecting to grow about 15% more in comparison to the last season 2013/14, and both main market, UE and Asian, growing in demand. Chilean citrus are maintaining a good quality and growing on exports with 67% exported to USA, 14% to Asia and 6% to Europe. The aim is to increase the citrus exports to the UE. 

From page 12 of edition 137 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine

Photo from the modern Santiago de Chile with the Andes Mountains as a background by Patrick Coe, Richmond, USA [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons






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Chile eyes opportunities for its Hayward kiwifruit in US

chilekiwi karen brux


Last year was a challenging one for Chile’s kiwifruit sector after the frosts of 2013 decimated production volumes.

But according to Chilean Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) marketing director Karen Brux, this year looks very promising, in particular for the country’s Hayward kiwis.

With Zespri now focusing on organic green and yellow kiwi, that opens up a window for Chile in supplying the conventional green ones, the CFFA believes.

Brux said demand for organic kiwis is increasing, which also bodes well for the country’s organic growers.

Brux said marketing of kiwis in the US is increasingly sophisticated. At the same time consumers are hungry for more information about the nutritional qualities and flavours of different fruits and want practical tips on how to incorporate them into their daily diets. This type of information helps drives sales, something that is increasingly important as there was little growth in either fruit consumption in general, or for kiwis in particular, in the US, from 2000–2012.

“Demand for kiwis in the US would be much higher if consumers were offered a good product year, but unfortunately that’s not the case,” she said.

“Chilean growers must follow the correct procedures to produce, harvest and send the fruit at the right time (e.g, not send Hayward kiwi in March when it is still unripe).”

“We have to show both distributors and American consumers that Chile can offer consistently good tasting fruit.”


Read the full interview in Spanish


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Chile’s table grape, pear and apple production bouncing back



Mother Nature has smiled on Chile lately, with weather favouring increases in its apple, table grape and pear crops for next year, according to new forecasts from the USDA. Table grape and pear production are set to climb 14.2% and 8.6% respectively, it said in its report, “Chile: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual”.


Fresh table grapes

Stable weather conditions in all production areas augurs for a 14.2% increase to about 1.2 million tons of table grapes for Chile’s 2015 marketing season, starting in January, the USDA reported.

Table grape export volumes are expected to rise 14.6% on last year thanks to both the higher production and more consignment shipments of table grapes. The US is Chile’s main foreign market for table grapes, taking more than 40% of exports, with the EU the next biggest.

More than 36 varieties of table grapes are grown for export in Chile but Thompson Seedless and Flame Seedless account for the bulk of production.



Producers are forecasting a harvest of about 1.4 million tons – about three quarters of them red apples – for the coming production season (January–December 2015). Higher than usual temperatures in spring are not expected to reduce the quality or volume of the crop.

The USDA said Chilean apple growers have been increasing orchard density and replacing traditional varieties, such as Red Delicious and its variations, with new, more productive varieties, such as Fuji, Gala, Jonathan, Braeburn, Pink Lady and Galaxies.

“As a result we expect that output will expand under normal weather conditions in the coming years,” it said. The US continues to be Chile’s strongest export market for apples.


Fresh pears

The USDA said it was still too early for a good estimate of pear volumes but noted the weather had been “good for fruit fresh fruit in general.” The most recent winter provided enough chill hours for good budding and thus an 8.6% increase on last year’s production is expected for the 2015 marketing season, which would mean about 290,000 tons

Packam’s Triumph and Beurre Bosc comprise more than 60% of Chile’s exports, which are expected to increase by 9% on 2014, in line with the higher output. Nearly half Chile’s pear exports go to the EU, the USDA said.



Read the report.