Dynamic shift for Argentine blueberry exports in 2012-13

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Dynamic shift for Argentine blueberry exports in 2012-13

The Argentinean Blueberry Committee (ABC) has forecast exports of the fruit to fall by 5% or more in the upcoming season, but with different concentrations of volume between the key growing regions.

Committee president Inés Peláez told www.freshfruitportal.com the season was starting well without weather-related complications, but it was still unclear what effect El Niño would have on the crop in the Southern Hemisphere spring and winter.

"The ABC estimates a similar total volume to last year. It is expected year-on-year volumes will increase in the first weeks, versus a decrease in volumes in the final weeks of the Argentine season that coincide with the entry of Chile," she said.

She said the total volume would be between 14,500-15,000 metric tons (MT) compared to last year's 15,800MT, but with more shipments from Tucumán and less from Concordia. Overall the season has been one week earlier than in 2011.

Of this volume, around 9,000MT are expected to be shipped to the United States, with 3,600MT of this until the end of week 43.

Harvesting in the intermediate and late areas of Tucumán started last week, where it was estimated all varieties had passed the flowering stage with fruit in the period of growth and ripening.

The committee expected the harvest of the latest varieties in the province's northeast to start this week.

"Due to the advancement mentioned and the incorporation of extra-early varieties, it is possible that the peak in the Tucumán region will be less pronounced than in previous seasons."

The group estimates Tucumán's exports will reach 5,000-6,000MT, depending on market prices.


Earlier timing  of seven days has also been seen in Concordia, but unlike Tucumán, the region is set for a 25% decline in export volume this year to 6,000MT.

The committee said varieties were evolving well in the area with the majority in the flowering stage, while others such as Emerald had berry sizes of around 15mm.

"The earliest varieties, which while they aren't the majority, will start to be shipped this week.

"Due to the incorporation of new very early harvesting varieties in the zone, the first parts of the export harvest started in the first fortnight of September, as well in the zone of Corrientes but with the traditional varieties of Emerald and Jewel."

Northern Buenos Aires

Whether blueberry harvests start early in Northern Buenos Aires will depend on temperatures in September and the first fortnight in October.

The region is set to export 3,000MT of the fruit, with phenological levels similar to what was seen last year; the only difference in 2012 is a larger size for fruit in development.


Peláez said the general cumulative volume for the first weeks of the Argentine season - including week 42 - would be around 1,200MT.

"After that week [week 42] it is recommended that retailers start their promotions in a way that can bring greater benefits due to a higher movement of Argentine fruit," she said.

She said a lack of competitiveness for Argentine fruit meant volumes would remain stable, with high labor costs and government policies that keep exchange rates almost immobile despite high inflation.

"However, importers can expect reliable provisions from a volume point of view, as well as in terms of quality."

Related stories: Early ripening for Argentine blueberry season

The task of making blueberry consumers 'come back in droves'


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