Better known as an exporter of the antioxidant-rich fruit, a dedicated campaign has bolstered blueberry consumption at home for Argentina.
South America’s third-most populous nation is getting a taste for a fruit it exports so well – blueberries – and prospects abroad continue to look promising too.
Speaking with Fresh Fruit Portal, Argentinean Blueberry Committee (ABC) treasurer Carlos Stabile said domestic consumption grew 180% this season with support from the”Mejor con Arándanos” (“Better with Blueberries”) campaign.
“We had extraordinary growth in the local market. Consumption in Argentina, even though it started from a very low base, has reached 3,000MT,” Stabile.
“As a new consumer country for this fruit that’s pretty good.
“I think the growth rate might go down but consumption will grow. We have a lot to work on.”
The initiative ties into a broader “Más frutas y verduras” (“More fruits and vegetables” campaign) led by the Argentine Ministry of Agri-industry, promoting blueberries as a fresh, natural and healthy snack alternative.
Some of the more significant efforts to boost consumption took place during a national “Blueberry Week”, including initaitives to broadcast the fruit’s benefits to the Argentine public along with tastings and sales throughout the country.
The executive added growing consumption in Argentina could potentially bring opportunities for imports during the counter-season.
He said the season was now “practically finished” with very little fruit remaining to be harvested, just in the province of Buenos Aires. And despite increased competition from other South American growers, Stabile was upbeat about the Argentine sector’s prospects.
“I think the great window that was there before isn’t like that now. We can say there is no clear benefit in going out much earlier as there is fruit from Peru and late fruit from the Northern Hemisphere,” he said.
“Here every year it is becoming less about having a marked peak and more about having stable fruit throughout the season.
“This year demand was very good. We noted a lot of growth in demand year-over-year – it’s a category that keeps growing in mature markets like the United States and others that are developing.”
In the season to week 49, the industry had shipped 15,651MT of blueberries worldwide of which 9,860MT went to the United States.
For continental Europe, Argentina’s blueberry exports had already surpassed figures for last year’s campaign, and it was a similar story by a significant margin for shipments to Canada and Asia.
The committee also recently highlighted the potential of Argentina’s organic blueberry production with 600 hectares now under organic certification.
On the cusp of Chinese market access
Stabile and his colleagues have high hopes of being able to export to mainland China next year, following a recent visit from a Chinese technical delegation.
The inspectors visited the Agro-industrial Experimental Station “Obispo Colombres” in the province of Tucuman, checking the methyl bromide fumigation practices in place.
The ABC has received word from the government that now it is a matter of sending a public officer to China to sign the final protocol.