In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas reviews the 2022 Blueberry season and takes a look at what 2023 might have in store for blueberries in the US. Each week the series looks at a different horticultural commodity, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.
Blueberries are acclaimed for their flavor, versatility, and health benefits; their consumption has expanded beyond fresh form, ranging from pureed to powdered. The ever-increasing demand from consumers has led to a meteoric increase in global production and trade.
In this season’s campaign that ran from May to October, Peru shipped 153,228,933 kilos of fresh blueberries for 843,725,006 dollars, i.e. 31% more volume than in the same period of the previous campaign 2021/2022, said Cilloniz Benavides, president of Inform@cción. Blueberries are now a $1 billion per year business in Peru. According to the 2022 IBO State of the Industry Report, the country has experienced a 16-fold growth in blueberry exports in under a decade,
from 12,951 metric tons (MT) exported by the close of the 2015-16 campaign to an estimated 219,982MT exported in the recent 2021-22 season. Peru shipped blueberries to 31 countries worldwide in the recent campaign with the United States, Europe, China and the UK being the main destinations.
Total blueberry production constituted about 55 percent of the total blueberry production in South America in the 2021/2022 season. The most significant region in exports of this crop was La Libertad with a representation of 54.11%, followed by Lambayeque with a representation of 21.16% and Lima with 7.98% of the total. For the 2022-2023 season, Daniel Bustamante, president of Proarándanos projects a 15% growth in the volume of blueberry exports for the 2022-2023 campaign compared to the previous season, with shipments being expected to culminate to 276,000 tons.
An estimated 98,228 tons of fresh blueberries are expected from Chile for the 2022-2023 season, according to the Chilean Blueberry Committee. The projection was made within the framework of the “Blueberries” block carried out at Fruittrade 2022. Peak arrivals to the US market are expected around the last week of December and first week of January.
Earlier during the year, Chilean fresh blueberry exporters reached an agreement to implement a charter service to the U.S. market called the “Blueberry Express.” The service includes charter ships by virtue of which a percentage of the cargo will be transported in refrigerated warehouses which would guarantee the maintenance of the cold chain. Additionally, the services at the port of destination would ensure a rapid delivery to customers, optimizing the arrival of the fruit to the consumer. Volumes estimated for the 2022-23 season have declined 8% from last season, when exports reached 107,187 tons.The primary cause of the fall in volumes is the industry’s rigorous focus on supplying only premium quality blueberries to its export markets.
For the 2021/2022 season Mexico had 9,000 production hectares of blueberries, and its main production regions are: Jalisco (3,200ha), Michoacán (3,000ha), and Sinaloa (2,000ha), with the latter being the region that has witnessed the highest growth in recent years. While Jalisco and Michoacán have almost the same planted hectarage, the yield is higher in Jalisco because of the use of technology, thus making Jalisco the leading state in terms of volume in the country accounting for around 50% of production. Around 95% of the production is exported at close to 68,300 metric tons (MT), generating $589 million in foreign exchange for the country, with Mexican blueberries sold in more than 35 countries and four continents.
Blueberry prices, especially in the fall and early winter season, have been slipping year after year due to the copious supply coming in from Peru and other countries. These volumes have led to imbalances in the supply/demand market. In October, prices fell below 5 dollars per kilogram. Current pricing is mainly being governed by the Chilean supply as the flow of blueberries from Peru has winded down.
To learn more take a look at our most read blueberry stories this year:
Written by: Sarah Ilyas