Agronometrics in Charts: Chile wraps up its 2023/24 Season

By Agronometrics | 3 April 2024

In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the state of Chile’s blueberry season. 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.

In a promising conclusion to the 2023-2024 season, Chilean blueberry exports are poised to surpass initial estimates, signaling a positive trajectory for the industry. The Chilean Blueberry Fruit Committee reports that shipments are projected to exceed 86,000 tons, showcasing an increase from the Committee’s earlier projection of 82,300 tons, albeit with a slight decrease compared to the previous season’s figures.

Andrés Armstrong, Executive Director of the Chilean Blueberry Fruit Committee, provided a comprehensive assessment of the season. He outlined the factors influencing the initial estimates, citing adjustments in acreage, production migrations, and market competition dynamics. Notably, adverse weather conditions, particularly the effects of El Niño, necessitated a mid-season reevaluation, impacting production forecasts.

“Our initial estimate was 82,300 tons, basically due to the balance of the hectares uprooted and the hectares planted, as well as the migration of some orchards and productions to the frozen industry that no longer have space in the market as a result of a greater competition from other countries,” Armstrong said, adding that in mid-December the committee made a reestimate that placed shipments at around 76,000 tons, mainly due to the effects of El Niño on production.

“However, our exports ended up with volumes above the estimate because, due to the expectation of higher prices, fruit that was dispatched fell short of the quality standards consumers have grown accustomed to. Therefore, the conclusion is that in global terms it was a good season, especially in the first part of the year.” Armstrong noted.

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The current season presented a unique opportunity for the Chilean blueberry industry, according to Andrés. It offered a chance to revitalize Chile’s position and influence within the market. He explained that the initial phase of the season showed promise, with a scarcity of fruit at destination attributed to delays in Peru and Chile. However, this situation reversed in the latter part of December, with both countries witnessing an uptick in volumes, marking the peak of the southern hemisphere season. Despite this, the culmination of the season was not entirely favorable for Chile, with issues surrounding the condition and quality of arrivals.

Julia Pinto, Technical Manager of the Blueberry Committee, provided additional insights into the season’s complexities. “Toward the conclusion of the season, we encountered heat waves following January 15th, exacerbating the condition of the fruit, compounded by subsequent rainfall. We observed three adverse effects that hindered a more positive season closure. Firstly, there was a concerted effort to dispatch every remaining fruit from Maule, Ñuble, and Bío Bío, which included fruit that should have been withheld. Secondly, the elevated temperatures in the south-south region further compromised the quality of arrivals. Lastly, Peru’s recovery in production volumes resulted in an oversupply in the market, leading to a decline in prices.” Julia said.

Chile Fresh Blueberry Export Price History | Cultivated Conventional

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 “It is important for the industry to remember that maintaining the quality of the fruit is key , especially at the end of the season, since it is the final image that remains in the retina of importers, retailers and consumers based on the decisions of purchasing, supplying, what they will take for the next season,” Julia added.

Andrés Armstrong highlighted the primary destination markets, noting significant quantities sent to the US (39,387 tons), the Netherlands (26,244 tons), and England (6,916 tons).

“In this season, we observed a remarkable surge in air shipments, amounting to a 190% increase in volume, totaling 4,398 tons. This surge was propelled by supply shortages in key markets, notably the US,” Armstrong explained. He further noted a slight decline of 6% in maritime shipments, totaling 79,574 tons.

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Organic blueberry shipments experienced a modest growth of 5.4% compared to the previous season, signaling evolving consumer preferences and market trends. The majority of organic blueberries were destined for the US market, underscoring its significance in driving demand for premium produce.

Chile Fresh Blueberry Export Volume | Cultivated Organic

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Furthermore, the season witnessed a continued trend towards the adoption of recommended and new blueberry varieties. Armstrong emphasized the importance of orchard management practices and harvesting techniques in ensuring product quality and market competitiveness.

The closing of the 2023-2024 Chilean blueberry season paints a nuanced picture of achievements and challenges. As industry stakeholders navigate evolving market dynamics, a steadfast commitment to quality, innovation, and adaptability will remain paramount for sustained success in the global arena.

In our ‘In Charts’ series, we work to tell some of the stories that are moving the industry. Feel free to take a look at the other articles by clicking here.

All pricing for domestic US produce represents the spot market at Shipping Point (i.e. packing house/climate controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the pricing data represents the spot market at Port of Entry.

You can keep track of the markets daily through Agronometrics, a data visualization tool built to help the industry make sense of the huge amounts of data that professionals need to access to make informed decisions. If you found the information and the charts from this article useful, feel free to visit us at where you can easily access these same graphs, or explore the other 21 commodities we currently track.

Written by: Sarah Ilyas

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