U.S. blueberry season sees slightly lower volumes
August 20, 2018

The domestic U.S. blueberry season is now winding down, having seen a slight drop in overall volumes and generally lower summer prices than the 2017 season.

The states that have already finished – Florida, California, Georgia and North Carolina  – collectively produced 47,000 metric tons (MT), which is 6% lower year-on-year and 26% down on 2016, USDA data shows.

Meanwhile, the states that are still marketing fruit – New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Michigan – had by week 32 produced 38,000MT, 3% lower than last season and 13% down on 2016.

Total domestic volumes so far this year are 5% lower year-on-year at 85,000MT.

The only year-on-year decreases have come from California (-26%; 16,000MT) and Michigan (-22%; 8,500MT), while there were increases for Georgia (+13%; 12,000MT), North Carolina (+12%; 10,000MT) New Jersey (+5%; 15,000MT)  Washington (+16%; 4,500MT). Florida and Oregon remained relatively stable at 9,000MT and 10,000MT respectively.

The U.S. market in July saw total supplies – both domestic and imports from Mexico and Canada – rise 2% year-on-year to 29,500MT, and during the first two weeks of August supplies have been 3% up from last year at 10,000MT.

Lower pricing

While overall volumes have been similar to last year over recent weeks, FOB prices have been lower than both last year and the three-year average.

The year-on-year gap has been closing over recent weeks, with a 12 x 1pt box fetching 26% lower (US$17.30) in the first week of July to fetching 3% lower (US$19.30) in the second week of August.

Average prices during July were US$15.50, which is 23% lower than last season. The 12 x 6oz format fared better, however, with prices just 1% lower year-on-year during July.

Imports from Chile and Mexico

Imports of Chilean blueberries to the U.S. from September through July were 3% lower year-on-year at 59,500MT. Volumes this year peaked between January and March, with 14,000MT – 19,000MT imported each month.

Mexico, meanwhile, is on track to ship a higher volume to the U.S. year-on-year during 2018. In total last year it shipped 22,000MT to the market, while so far this year it has already sent 20,500MT.

Mexican volumes are normally very low between July and October but pick up again in November, with the peak months typically falling between March and May.