Quebec importers of blueberries are readying themselves for a heavy supply of berries at the end of November.
“We’re carrying blueberries from Argentina right now. This year, the blueberries started a couple of weeks late and that means in week 48, there’s going to be an abundance of them,” says Franco Maggiore with Thomas Fruits et Legumes in Montreal, Canada. “There will be some shipping containers by sea from Argentina then pricing will decline because air freight is more costly. Right now, they’re a little overpriced.”
The projected influx is largely due to weather issues in Argentina. “There was a cool start to the season and then, extreme heat. That’s when the fruit came on heavily,” says Maggiore. “It’s all coming in now because of the late start but it’s the way they came in. The cold stimulated the plant and then the heat boosted the growth. It made an abundance of fruit.”
Chile to start soon
Argentina’s blueberry season goes until December, depending on weather, though Maggiore notes that Chile should begin its supplies as well next month. “Their volume should be steady because they haven’t had any temperature issues at the start of their season,” he says.
That said, the heat has helped produce good quality berries with vivid colors and no browning or discoloration. “The seeding inside the berry itself, because of the late start, there’s less of a seed in the berry than last year. It makes it better when you’re making smoothies and things like that,” says Maggiore.
With the more limited supplies and higher pricing, demand has been soft for berries recently. “Pricing is about 25 percent more than at this time last year. It was about $1/less per basket in the retail stores at this time last year,” he says. “There haven’t been any promotions yet but we should see a lot of promotions at the end of the month. Then after that, with the holidays coming around, supplies will shorten up.”