The blueberry producers of Tucumán have seen their exports grow in recent years thanks to a series of improvements that were made at the airport in that province, which made it a connection to the world. However, commercial aviation limitations and the high cost of freight, boosted in part by the pandemic, meant that for the second consecutive year that terminal was not used for export.
“The situation is quite painful, but there is no way to make it viable. Air fares went up a lot and we cannot compete with those prices, ”Francisco Estrada, head of the Association of Blueberry Producers of Tucumán, told Bichos de Campo.
Now, on the other hand, the number of flights has decreased considerably, being only three or four per day to national destinations. That implies high costs, because if you pay US $ 1,80 per kilo of blueberries exported, the rates currently exceed 3 dollars depending on the destination. “To that we must add the cost of production, the labor to harvest and pack, the packaging and the taxes. It is unfeasible for small and large producers ”, stated Estrada.
This led many to re-send their loads by ship, as a way to get volume of fruit out of the country. But it is not a definitive solution, since not all merchandise can withstand a trip of at least 30 days in a container. And, of course, we must add the much-mentioned global shortage of containers.
Argentina exports 70% of its production to the US Another part goes to Europe, Israel and Canada.
“In the world everything that is stocks of empty and full containers has become very disorganized, and that made ship rates also double in value. There are many blueberries that remain in Argentina because they have no way of reaching the markets quickly, ”said Estrada.
Chile, because it is highly focused on the agro-export of fruits, is one of the countries in the region that maintains container stocks, and is one of the destinations chosen by blueberry producers that have quality productions to withstand such a long trip. Those who cannot ensure the durability of the fruit choose to turn their production over to the industry.
Argentina exports between 60% and 70% of its blueberries to the United States - which makes Chile an attractive country from which to leave with the cargo - and divides the rest between countries in Europe, Israel and Canada. England was one of the key destinations, but it was lost to South Africa.
As for the problems to comply with the contracts, Estrada said that everything is under control. «The biggest problem happens because we have fresh markets and sometimes you cannot export a certain quantity because it does not give you the quality to put everything by ship and have it arrive in that condition. Then you are getting into other less attractive markets such as the industrial frozen food market. We must reopen the country to the world, reconnect, increase the menu of supply of logistics actions.