In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the state of the Peruvian 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.
The Peruvian blueberry sector continues to grow rapidly with about 68% of blueberries imported into the U.S. coming from this destination according to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Peru has experienced a 16-fold growth in the exported volume of blueberries in less than a decade, going from 17.386 tons in 2013 to 275.837 tons exported in 2022. The Economic Studies Department of Scotiabank anticipated that during the 2022/23 season, exports would reach 285 thousand tons. “This estimate assumes that the higher production has been driven by the orientation towards finding new, more productive varieties and larger harvesting areas” the bank indicated.
Luis Miguel Vegas, the general director of Proarándanos, said unequivocally that the Peruvian industry would continue to expand steadily. He recently provided a comprehensive assessment of the Peruvian industry’s output levels. Growth projections are set at 340,000 to 360,000 tons for the 2023/2024 campaign, of which around 15% will correspond to organic blueberries. Blueberries have overtaken grapes, coffee, avocados, and mangoes to become the main agricultural export product of Peru, according to official statistics.
“Imports from Peru are earlier and earlier. This season they started arriving in June/July, with significant volume in early September,” says Phil Rindone, director of berry sales at Pandol Brothers, Delano, CA. “This is due to a number of factors, including the downturn in the economies of Europe and Asia this year, as well as increased production in Peru.”
Due to pricing pressure induced by a glut in Europe, increasing production and freight expenses, and domestic political and social turmoil, Vegas said that the season had been difficult. As Peru’s blueberry output continues to increase, he noted that the sector would need to extend its promotional efforts in major countries such as the United States and China to prevent further price erosion. “Nine percent of Peru’s organic blueberries go to the US, and for next season we expect organics to account for 15 percent of our total blueberry output,” Vegas said.
As the blueberry season in Peru begins to wind down, the country’s ambitions to enter new markets continue unabated, with the Maldives being the most recent target. In week 5 of the current 2022/2023 campaign, Peruvian blueberries reached the Maldives for the very first time. While blueberry output has increased in recent years, officials have worked diligently to acquire new markets. Negotiations are currently underway to access Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, New Zealand, Vietnam, Argentina, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Australia.
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.
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Written by: Sarah Ilyas