Opinion: Southern Hemisphere blueberries begin another season
October 28, 2013

By Isabel Quiroz, executive director of iQonsulting.com

The Southern Hemisphere has begun another blueberry export season.

Peru, the latest supplier, will continue expansion during the lowest supply period, although with low volume of about two to five pallets a week.

On Argentina’s end, a better season is expected in terms of volume. This will mean recovery from the drop last year. The offering will, however, be more concentrated and leave an opening for Chile when it begins more significant harvest and export volume in mid-December.

At that time, the effect will be felt from the frosts that damaged early production. In Chile, a delay of a week is expected. This situation could maintain prices.

As importers have indicated, prices are wild. This comes from the lack of an offer. Local volume is currently scarce, as the season ended last week.

Additionally, Peru is coming in with very low volume that must be fumigated. Although this affects quality, prices were adjusted to reach US$45 in week 41. The majority have sold for between US$38 and US$40.

Argentina is receiving similar prices for a higher quality offering and has kept up with 20 pallets a week.

These prices are deceiving because the market is empty. There has been a notable increase from Argentina, however. In two weeks, 100 pallets could arrive, motivating lower prices and reflecting the real market trend.

With a more concentrated harvest in Argentina, it is likely that the beginning of Chile’s offer will find a full, high quality market.

Under these conditions, it is important that the Chilean blueberry industry hold down the American market with good quality and condition.  It must erase the poor image that it left last season due to poor arrival condition from heavy rains during growing season.

The experience of the 2012-13 season, from peak season until the end, tired sellers from the constant condition problems of Chilean blueberries. For the first time in the history of exporting this fruit, the price did not recover toward the end when volume typically drops.

Part of quality fruit demand was satisfied by Peru and Mexico with prices far from those achieved by Chile at that time. Even with small volume, quality was established and we now face competition in development.

Nevertheless, Chile’s reputation as a good quality blueberry supplier remains. Importers and consumer can understand that a season may have faults that will be reflected in arrivals. But two consecutive seasons cannot be justified to consumers and importers who may classify Chile as unreliable. Arrivals of bad quality fruit can be justified under no circumstance

Fresh Fruit Portal