Chile's blueberry exports grow 33% in 2010-11

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Chile's blueberry exports grow 33% in 2010-11

Chile's blueberry exports this season are likely to be 33% higher than in 2009-10 at 66,000 metric tons (MT), with strong shipment growth rates to Europe, Asia and the U.S.

Chilean Blueberry Committee manager Andrés Armstrong, says growth rates to the U.S. of 54% would be reduced to 39%, considering the number of cartons cleared and the growing size of average blueberries sold.

"This fact and the promotion programs by most exporters, allowed for an adequate movement of fruit in the market, avoiding the generation of stocks during most of the season," he says.

"(That's) Except for the week of New Year and the following when the effects of snowstorms that hit the east coast did not allow for the adquate movement of fruit."

In total Chile is expected to export 54,800MT to the U.S. as exports to Europe (7,600MT) and Asia (1,800MT) have grown at rates of 26% and 39% respectively.

But while the industry garnered strong volumes for export this season, Armstrong highlights they received lower prices than in the previous season.

"Speaking of prices is difficult, as every situation is different and depends on the week of dispatch, the market and the packing type, however the U.S. market was clearly inferior to the 2009-10 season," he says

"To the effect of the weekly volumes dispatched and also the effects of fruit condition that didn't help push up prices, while it's good that the fruit moved adequately and found demand, prices did not go as expected."

He says prices for frozen blueberries are better than during the 2009-10 season, representing a viable alternative for growers, especially when the fresh fruit industry is facing problems.

On the issue of 'condition', Armstrong points to weather problems in the north of Chile which affected harvest volumes, while climatic conditions affected fruit quality and condition around the country.

"The rains and high temperatures in various productive regions in some cases caused fungus and signs of decay, in addition affecting the strength and post-harvest life for a large part of the season," he says.

"The start of the blueberry season began with very good conditions and quality, however from mid-January until the end of February and also what has been observed in March, the condition of fruit has been complicated."

Related story: Chile blueberry exports smash estimates in week 8

Source: Chilean Blueberry Committee/ edited by

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