Argentine blueberry exports slide 10% in "unusual" season
By the end of week 51 Argentina had shipped 14,600 metric tons (MT) of fruit, and Argentinian Blueberry Committee (ABC) general manager Inés Peláez estimated the season would wrap up with 14,800MT exported, marking a 10% drop.
"It was a very unusual year, because we were affected by the El Niño phenomenon, a very cold spring which meant the fruit took longer to ripen, and also intense rains that constantly affected our harvest," she told www.freshfruitportal.com.
Peláez said total industry fresh blueberry production would be around 16,500MT, while frozen volumes stood at around 1000MT.
While the Argentine exporters have been delayed in arriving to key markets, the silver lining for them was that the Chilean industry found itself in a similar position.
"Due to the scarcity of fruit in the markets, our fruit didn't lose much value, and so we had a growing demand for a somewhat limited supply," Pelaez said.
"It was consistent, in reality 14,800MT are good volumes for us. I think that it [Chile's delay] favored us."
Some 65% of volumes were shipped to the U.S., and Pelaez said good prices remained throughout the season, in part thanks to the late start of the Chilean deal.
The representative also anticipated an expansion in hecterage, as a direct result of the country recently electing a new president.
"We had a few major problems which I believe the new government is now going to sort out," she said, adding that it was still early days.
Pelaez also said she believed the industry may be able to gain export access to China during 2016.