The current blueberry market is characterized by diversity and numerous origins: "The supply from Serbia and Romania is now rapidly picking up speed, while the last Spanish lots, as well as goods from Italy and Portugal, are arriving on the market. Since week 25, we have also been able to access the first German tunnel goods and in a few days we are also expecting the first outdoor goods of the Duke variety. The assortment will be rounded off in about one to two weeks with the first shipments from Poland," says Christiaan Koellreuter, Managing Director of the North German trading company Nordgemüse Krogmann, about the current supply situation.
In contrast to last year, Koellreuter continues, all of Europe's major growing regions are now drawing on their full resources. "We are expecting a harvest increase of 15 to 20 percent in Germany compared to last year. In Serbia, Romania and Poland, too, the yield forecasts are particularly lush and the quality is expected to be very good. Based on current indications, we also expect an above-average harvest in South Africa, so we can expect a good supply situation until the end of the year." In order to avoid surpluses, Koellreuter expects that this year, in close consultation with the retail trade, more larger packaging units - around 750 grams and 1 kg - will be placed on the market.
Quotations slightly below last year's level
The start of the season in Germany is characterized by high demand. Koellreuter: "High-quality blueberries are particularly in demand, as the quality of the last Spanish deliveries was not so exhilarating, partly due to the heat. However, the Spanish season lasts surprisingly long this year, normally the supply of Spanish blueberries is rather difficult already at the end of May." From Serbia, the main variety being sourced at the moment is Duke: "The lion's share of Serbian yields are brought to market within two weeks, so they usually have to necessarily discount their prices to speed up marketing accordingly."
In general, prices have been rather weak over the past two months, according to Koellreuter. "After Easter, there were mostly rock-bottom prices, but in the meantime prices have picked up to some extent, so we are now slightly below last year's level. Blueberry producers are also facing rising costs, while trade prices tend to move in the other direction. Unfortunately, this is already causing some blueberry growers in Germany to fear for their livelihood. Not least because German commodity is still too little honored price-wise. We therefore recommend that growers market their produce through several channels - around 70 to 80 percent through us and 20 to 30 percent through direct marketing - so that a healthy purchasing structure is created."
German blueberries on the rise
Similar to other European countries, the early variety Duke is still the standard market blueberry in German cultivation, he said. "In the near future, however, other characteristics will be in demand, such as suitability for mechanical harvesting methods. For late varieties, on the other hand, I see less growth potential, as Poland is increasingly pressing the market with volumes in the second half of the season. Normally, the main German harvest is marketed until mid-October, after which there are only isolated German products."
Although he doesn't have specific numbers, Koellreuter is seeing increasing interest in blueberries on the producer side. "Southern Germany has also recognized the potential of blueberry production for itself and is now pressing the market more and more concisely with large quantities, which we are feeling especially on the wholesale markets. Fortunately, we also have plants in the southern German region, which is why we are in an excellent position in this segment as well."
Premium blueberries all year round
In addition, Nordgemüse Krogmann has been able to establish a high level of recognition in the classic wholesale market with its premium brand 'Die dicken Blauen,' Koellreuter continues. "Nowadays, we are able to supply our selected buyers in the wholesale markets with high-quality premium blueberries - either loose or in cardboard trays - all year round. Price-wise, this premium quality is also rewarded accordingly by the customer."