U.S. exporting first fresh blueberries to South Korea

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U.S. exporting first fresh blueberries to South Korea

The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council is upbeat about the opportunities in the South Korean market, with Oregon blueberries now on supermarket shelves in the East Asian country.

Highbush Blueberry Council executive director Mark Villata tells www.freshfruitportal.com everything looks to be going smoothly so far with good consumer reception.

"We think fresh demand over there is going to be very strong based on the amount of frozen that’s been shipped," he says.

The industry shipped two million pounds of frozen blueberries to the market in 2010, which grew to 4.6 million pounds in 2011. Villata expects the upswing to continue for the frozen fruit.

"The Koreans have caught onto the whole health message behind blueberries and given the fact that fresh access from the U.S. was not available before, they started to be more interested in the frozen imports, and a lot of it is sold at retail, while some of it is sold on television home shopping channels.

He says the agreement reached between Oregon and South Korea is a significant one that hopefully will expand to other U.S. states.

"It’s our first step, and hopefully after the season we’ll be able to open up with other regions beyond Oregon.

Villata expects Washington and California will be next in line, highlighting that while some states don't have access yet the move is still positive.

"Eventually we’d like to see access from all U.S. states, but I think it’ll be a step-by-step process.

"We’ve got a lot of berries coming down the pipe and we need to find homes for those berries, so any outlet we can develop is going to be beneficial for anyone."

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) deputy undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs Rebecca Blue, says exporting to South Korea opens up an important new market for Oregon growers.

"While we previously exported frozen blueberries, we are excited for this new opportunity to showcase our country’s fresh produce."

The United States exported a record US$174 million in fresh and frozen blueberries in 2011.

The market access agreement was developed jointly by APHIS, Oregon Department of Agriculture and South Korean plant health officials over a 10-year period.

Under the terms of the agreement, blueberries exported to South Korea must adhere to a systems approach that includes field inspections, an annual onsite survey by South Korean agricultural officials, and inspection prior to export.


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