Dole Chile’s blueberry production for the season may not have quite hit original forecasts, but the division’s berry manager is pleased nonetheless and expects new plantings will be cropping up soon throughout the country.
The company exported a little more than 600 metric tons (MT) in 2014-15 – off the initial estimate of 800-1000MT – but berries manager Esteban Chacón said “we are very satisfied.”
U.S.-headquartered Dole began production in Chile as the next ‘logical step’ in the company’s development, given the nation’s importance as a counter-seasonal supplier of the super fruit.
“Within the context of fruit exports, blueberries occupy a very important place, and commercially and operationally we have a synergy withU.S. importers as they also buy other fruit that we sell,” Chacón told www.freshfuritportal.com.
“We make the most of our infrastructure, our human resources, and our logistics.”
“Blueberries are a very important product for Dole in the U.S., and in fact the Dole Berry Company division is one of the main importers and marketers of blueberries in the country. Essentially there were more reasons to enter the business than not to enter.”
Given volumes from Chile are relatively small, the company decided to concentrate production in one area to simplify logistics and to better manage the producers, who are based in the VII (Maule) region between San Javier and Parral.
“However, our next stage is to grow in volume, both towards the north and south of the country. In fact, during this season we managed to have some fruit from the IX (Valdivia) region which turned out really well,” Chacón said.
“Our operations base is in Chimbarongo, which also has the infrastructure and technology to handle the product in the best possible way. It also has very capable people that contribute to a good operation.”
In terms of varieties, Dole Chile continues to work with those already grown in the central areas – Highbush and Rabbiteye.
“In the universe of varieties we have been able to establish parameters to separate and classify the varieties for the different markets, since not all behave in the same way post-harvest nor do they respond in the same way to technologies used to improve or extend their post-harvest life,” Chacón said.
Chacón also highlighted the importance of having a uniform distribution and to be “always searching for the best alternative business option and risk diversification, avoiding dependence on one market alone.”
“Undoubtedly, for the industry the U.S. is the main market, receiving 67% of fruit, then the EU with a little more than 20%, and the Far East with 10%.”
Chacón said the markets were in constant evolution, and therefore could vary greatly year to year.
“More than a specific niche or market, we aim to develop good clients and business partners in each of them.
“Our brand and experience have helped us a lot to do this, but it is still a job that needs constant work. To get the good results you have to supply your client with volume and quality.
“Our main challenge is the consolidation of markets that are very demanding, which is why we have taken the post-harvest management very seriously, with specialized people.”04/07/2015 Fresh Fruit Portal