A record number of delegates at the International Blueberry Organization’s (IBO) fourth summit heard how Mexico is gaining increasing relevance within the industry
Mexico has the potential to be a game changer within the global blueberry business on account of its long season, innovative growers, new varieties and proximity to the huge counter-seasonal market of the U.S.
“Mexico is raising expectations and will change the landscape for the North American market by putting pressure on local late season production,” Cort Brazelton, Director of Business Development & International Business at Fall Creek Farm & Nursery told delegates at the packed meeting.
During a roundtable discussion moderated by Mario Steta, Driscoll’s general manager for Mexico, the audience heard how blueberry production in Mexico could quadruple within the next couple of years, up from just under 10,000 metric tons in 2014.
Matt Blechman, Blueberry Development Manager at Reiter Affiliated Companies, explained how Mexico benefits from a number of resources that could seal its success as a major supplier, such as its climate, soils and people, in addition to water and labour availability.
But as the industry consolidates its expansion, Francisco Ortiz and Sergio Vargas, owners and partners of Mexican supplier Berries Paradise, stressed that the sector must keep the end consumer at the center of any decisions.
All roundtable participants also emphasized the importance of developing the domestic Mexican market as an viable and competitive alternative sales channel by educating consumers about the benefits of blueberries.
A record 240+ trade leaders from 16 of the world’s blueberry-producing countries convened at the RIU Plaza Guadalajara Hotel on 10-12 March for the IBO’s vibrant conference and networking event.
Key industry players attended from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Guatemala, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa, the U.K., Uruguay and the U.S.
Portugal and South Korea were also represented for the first time, with blueberry trade representatives from the two nations joining the speaker program.
The event provided a unique platform from which to reveal the production projections for each of the world’s major blueberry supply nations.
"Every country representative spoke about rising production in their nation. China was the most optimistic about its future growth and it was a nice surprise to learn about the positive developments in Portugal," noted Andrés Armstrong, chairman of IBO.
"Production is growing in line with the expansion of blueberry consumption all over the world. Asia has the highest rates of consumption and eastern Europe is developing too," Armstrong added.
Other discussions focused on finding new alternatives for generating, gathering and distributing information about blueberries, as well as examining the latest information on pests and health research.
All of the speaker presentations from this year's event will be made available for IBO members to download from the organization's website: www.internationalblueberry.org
Launched in 2011, the IBO Summit has taken place twice in the US, first in Orlando and then Fresno, before heading overseas in 2013 to Santiago, Chile.
Next year's meeting will move outside of the Americas to Coffs Harbour in Australia on 7-9 September 2015 in recognition of Australia's important presence in the international blueberry industry.
The IBO Summit 2014 was sponsored by BBC Technologies, Biotempak, Driscoll’s, Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, Flexo Soluciones, FMC and Hortifrut.
About the International Blueberry Organization
The IBO is a global organization that unites leaders from across the blueberry industry to share information, improve understanding, address mutual challenges, coordinate potential solutions and explore opportunities. Its mission is to raise blueberry consumption and advance the health and sustainability of the blueberry industry by providing an international platform to discuss issues of common interest between growing and exporting countries.