Mexico set for Biloxi blueberry growth
A Mexican blueberry grower expects the country's production of the fruit to hit 3,500 metric tons (MT) this season, with output set to grow in the coming years due to the large number of young plants.
Berries Paradise president Francisco J. Ortiz Esquivel, tells www.freshfruitportal.com the country has around 1,500ha of plantings, with the majority under three years old.
The season goes from September to June with concentrated harvests at the start of January, while to date the Biloxi blueberry has shown the best results out of the free varieties.
Ortiz Esquivel says some companies, mostly from the U.S. and Chile, have access to exclusive varieties such as Emerald, Jewel, Primadonna, Millenium and Rocio.
He says the general quality of Mexico's Biloxi blueberries is acceptable, but for producers who don't know how to manage it there is a tendency for smaller berry sizes.
Mexico's main blueberry export markets are the U.S., Japan, Canada and the U.K., while some produce is also sent to local markets.
The main production zones are in the states of Michoacán, Jalisco and Colima. Ortiz Esquivel says there is definitely potential in other areas, such as the state of Puebla where there are Rabbiteye blueberry plantations with harvests at the end of spring and the start of summer.
He says all the fruit currently goes to the fresh market as there still isn't enough production to warrant a frozen product program.
Competition and challenges
Ortiz Esquivel says Mexico's challenge is to master crop management, improve sizes and increase varieties which bear fruit in September, October and November.
In terms of competition, he says there is space in the market for efficient growers despite production growth in the U.S., Chile, Argentina and Peru.