Peru: Talsa's first commercial blueberry shipment to China due for arrival
Update: We have received clarification from Talsa that there has been delays on approval of the airfreight shipment, and that an arrival is most likely to occur next week.
As spectacular growth continues for Peruvian blueberry exports, one of the country's leading growers has attached a special significance to the up-and-coming market of China.
Following a test airfreight shipment of blueberries for tastings in the newly opened Chinese market in November, Grupo Rocio CEO Ulises Quevedo says his company's first commercial shipment is set to hit the Chinese market next week, followed by seafreight exports that are on the water and due to arrive in Shanghai on Feb. 20.
"I’d calculate it should be arriving in China next week, after the trade fair Fruit Logistica," Quevedo tells Fresh Fruit Portal.
He says after cold treatment, the cargo of 20 airfreight pallets (120 boxes per pallet) of blueberries should be on its way to the market, of which 10 are from Talsa and the other 10 are from Hortifrutal, a joint venture between Talsa and Chile-based Hortifrut - a partner in the world's leading blueberry brand Naturipe.
Talsa is just one division of Grupo Rocio, which is a big player in poultry and livestock and is also Peru's largest dairy company. But as the agricultural division, which also includes asparagus and avocados, Talsa is one of the group's most prospective businesses.
"What is certain is that a great volume from Peru is concentrated in the months of September to December, and then January to March are months when we have a presence but always with less volume, which is different to other parts of the world where campaigns are very concentrated," Quevedo says, claiming overall production can go on for around eight months.
"While the market for Peru in the United States and Europe starts to get interesting in September, due to the transit time the production from August will also arrive in China.
"So what China gives us is an additional month of a window of good prices compared to the traditional markets of Europe and the United States. Remember, Peru doesn’t depend so much on weather for its production but more on agronomic management,"
The group's blueberry production is focused around the area of Chavimochic, La Libertad, which Quevedo claims has ideal conditions for the fruit.
"Due to the quality of the water and the weather, and the agronomic management that we’ve managed to develop in this zone, I can say we are competitive.
"This year with greater volume in the months of October and November, prices fell in a significant way. But being competitive, I think there is still room for Peru to take space in the market."
While competitor Camposol is Peru's leading single blueberry grower, Quevedo believes that Talsa and Hortifrutal would take the top spot when combined. And that's not to mention other players that have come on the scene.
"Obviously after Talsa, Hortifrutal and Camposol, which have been the pioneering companies in this development, after us there are other various new efforts to add to the Peruvian export offering, not just in the La Libertad area where Chavimochic is, but in Lambayeque, Lima and Ica.
"Without a doubt, the volume and the areas destined to blueberry production is increasing," he says, making a rough estimate that within two years there could be 5,000 hectares of blueberries farms across the Peruvian industry .
Development of the Chinese market appears to almost be a necessity in that context of production growth, but China is not the only Asian market on the horizon. He emphasizing while the inaugural commercial shipment is airfreight the majority of exports will be done by sea.
"Asia as a whole is an interesting market. We have explored various markets in Asia which individually are not great markets, but together become an important potential market.
"In the Middle East we are still making the first contacts – it’s not a very important market now but without a doubt one to develop."