Why the Chilean Blueberry Committee predicts a small decline in exports

From The Packer | 12 October 2023

Overview of blueberries from Chile in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on October 11, 2023.

The Chilean Blueberry Committee of ASOEX has estimated a volume of 82,000 tons of fresh blueberries for the 2023-24 season.

The estimate, done in conjunction with iQonsulting, is a 6% decrease in fresh exports compared with last season, according to the release, which noted that updated estimates will be released throughout the Chilean blueberry season.

“The decrease is due in large part to ongoing varietal replacement that is taking place within the Chilean blueberry industry,” Andres Armstrong, executive director of the Chilean Blueberry Committee, said in the release. “Growers have uprooted 1,164 hectares of old varieties with lower productivity and poor postharvest life, and have replaced it with 607 hectares of new varieties. We now have a total of 18,071 hectares, which is two percent less than 2022, but the move toward new varieties is incredibly positive for the industry.”

blueberry volumes by his 4

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Newly planted varieties comprise 20% of the planted area, and Chilean industry leaders expect that will increase in coming years, Armstrong said in the release. Varieties that have good productivity but are weaker postharvest are being diverted to the frozen market, an attractive alternative for some producers, he said.

Industry leaders are focused on renewing varieties and generating more efficient production management and logistical services, Armstrong said.

There have been reports of Peru’s volume decline due to the effect of El Niño, with some discussion about how this might impact the overall market and Chile, more specifically, according to the release. Armstrong said the Chilean blueberry industry is not speculating on what might happen with Peruvian supply in December and January.

“We have a unique opportunity to show our global markets that Chile is a necessary part of their global blueberry supply, and that is what our exporters are focusing on,” he said.

The effect of El Niño on Chilean blueberries has been limited so far, Armstrong said.

The intense rains in regions with a significant acreage of blueberries occurred before flowering, so there is little effect on production, he said. Also, the lower accumulation of cold hours, a phenomenon that has strongly affected blueberry production in Peru, will have a lesser impact in Chile since it occurred in regions that produce small volumes of blueberries, the release said.

The Chilean Blueberry Committee is continually monitoring the impact of weather conditions on blueberries and will issue updates to keep global customers informed, the release said.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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