Argentine U.S. blueberry exports feel pinch of domestic supply
Argentine blueberry U.S. prices have dipped compared with the previous year due to an overlap with domestic supply, importers claim.
Naturipe Farms sales vice-president Jim Roberts, confirmed prices were a little lower due to North American producers finishing later than normal.
"Really what has happened is north American production has extended longer than last year. We don't have the gap in the market place."
He said he expected Michigan to finish now, Oregan state and British Columbia this week with Washington continuing until Oct.15-20.
Although, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has not yet quoted official prices Roberts said Miami freight on board (FOB) rates were currently US$37-8 per box of 12 6oz cartons.
Jac Vandenburg blueberry category manager Michael Schiro, agreed prices were down quoting a Miami FOB rate of between US$32-34.
Both importers described this season's early Argentine shipments as good quality with regards to sizing, color and bloom.
"We have been very pleased with what we have seen, we have not had a single quality issue with the 100% of the fruit which has come in," said Roberts.
Schiro said he expected to increase Argentine blueberry imports by 15% this year due to "an increasing demand" from his customer base.
Roberts said he expected to import 30% more this season but said this wasn't typical of the industry where there had been loss of blueberry acreage in Argentina due to growers' increasing costs.
"For us Argentina fits in at a strategic time of year when there is not much fruit in the market place. Argentina plays a key role in the transition from domestic to Chilean supply."
Argentine supply is expected to peak at the end of this month with Chile sending early harvested blueberries to Europe, the U.K. and Asia before exporting in earnest to North America at the end of November.
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