The 2019/20 Chilean blueberry season is drawing to a close, with exports down 1.5 per cent to 109,291 tons. In a statement, ASOEX stated that the decline in volume was to be expected given the challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak, particularly in the key Chinese market. “Due to the Coronavirus in China, the market in that country was paralysed after the Chinese New Year for at least three weeks, affecting a portion of containers arrived on those days.”
North America, which accounts for 52% of Chile’s blueberry exports, recorded an 11% drop in volume. By contrast, shipments to Europe were up 8%, and now represent 32% of the overall volume. There was a jump in exports to the Asian markets (+20%), which now account for 15% of the overall share.
Meanwhile, Chile’s organic blueberry shipments continued their upward trend, reaching a record 15,470 tons (+16%). Once again, the North American market is the main destination (77%) followed by Europe (23%).
© 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.
Fresh blueberry exports from Chile, which are available from October to April, are expected to grow again during the 2019-2020 season, reaching an estimated 115,000 tons, which is a four percent increase compared to the previous season.
This growth stems from new plantings implemented the past few years with the goal of variety renewal, and the ultimate result of an increase in the planted area and production in Chile.
The new area is estimated at more than 4,000 hectares with new varieties planted the last four years in Chile, resulting in a planted area increase of 2,500 hectares. This new plantings will come into full capacity during the coming years when new plants reach their full production.
Furthermore, the Chilean Blueberry Committee members have decided not to export a number of older varieties with insufficient shelf life.
Due to all these factors, The Committee estimates total production of around 160,000 tons, with 115,000 exported as fresh fruit, 41,000 going into the processed market, and 4,000 headed for the domestic market.
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.
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/