Chile: European blueberry imports on the rise, despite recession

Last season was particularly difficult for Chilean fruit as a whole. Blueberry producers suffered the impact of severe frosts, which resulted in a 14% drop in exports.blueberry-cartons-_-ffp-300x300

According to Andrés Armstrong, manager of the Chilean Blueberry Committee, production volumes have recovered this season and exports have remained stable, which is very positive, since sharp peaks lead to fruit oversupply, which hinders the logistics process and negatively affects prices.

Andrés stresses the importance of the European market, which is reflected in the significant representation that the sector had at Fruit Logistica 2015. "It is a very important fair for the Chilean fruit industry and for blueberries in particular. The European market is growing every year for us and each year we increase our presence in Berlin. The committee has 42 members and more than half were present."

According to data supplied by the Committee, 23% of all blueberries were shipped to the European market up until 15 February; a slight increase compared to the previous season, when 22% of the fruit was allocated to this destination. This season, however, the volume shipped has been much larger, as this season Chilean exports will grow by between 15% and 20%, exceeding 90,000 tonnes. This is a noteworthy increase for a European market marked by the devaluation of the Euro and the Russian veto, which has led to oversupply and has resulted in even greater competition between different types and varieties.

"The situation for blueberries is rather special; it is a fruit with consumption on the rise worldwide due to its position as a healthy food. While the devaluation of the Euro may have slightly reduced the size of this growth, demand continues to grow strongly in Europe," affirms Andrés.

Andrés recalled that Chile started exporting fresh blueberries only to the United States, but has gradually diversified its shipments to Europe and Asia. The country is currently the only one allowed to export fresh blueberries directly to China and also has a prime position in the growing South Korean market.

"While Canada and the United States currently account for 66% of our shipments, and only 11% goes to Asia, what is happening in China is very important, as we register a significant growth rate and we are the only ones exporting. We hope that other countries will also enter this market soon, so that there can be a more stable supply throughout the year and consumer habits can be generated more effectively," concludes Andrés.

02/20/2015

Fresh Plaza