Inaugural trade mission for Chilean Blueberry Committee heads to India, UAE

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Inaugural trade mission for Chilean Blueberry Committee heads to India, UAE

Chile retained its spot as the world's leading blueberry exporter in 2016-17 with revenues of US$631 million, but this figure represents a 15% year-on-year decline despite relatively stable tonnages. As competition grows, the pressure is on the Chilean industry to keep the super-fruit super-profitable. 

Chilean Blueberry Committee delegates are set to visit to budding markets ahead of Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong, with a trade mission going to India and the United Arab Emirates between August 30 and Sept. 4.

The committee, which is part of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX), will travel with promotion agency ProChile's support to New Delhi, Mumbai and Dubai for meetings with potential buyers and logistics service providers, promoting Chilean fresh blueberry exports backed by a new marketing program. 

Although household penetration for fresh blueberries remains low in both India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Chile has recently signed a commercial agreement with  India aimed at helping facilitate greater blueberry and avocado exports to the country.

ASOEX marketing director for Europe and Asia, Charif Christian Carvajal, together with Chilean Blueberry Committee executive director Andrés Armstrong, will lead the delegation which includes a group of six grower-exporters.

"The principal objective is to generate new contacts with importers, distributors and retail chains, and to spread the word about the new export agreement between Chile and India,”Armstrong said in a release.

"This type of trade mission is precisely one of the reasons why the Chilean Blueberry Committee exists. The Committee works to open up new markets, diversify channels and drive export opportunities. During the trip we will raise awareness of Chilean blueberries, their characteristics and availability."

The delegation will host B2B meetings with importers, distributors and retailers, in addition to visiting the major wholesale markets, retail chains, port facilities and logistical platforms in both India and Dubai.

Mumbai will be one of the stops on the visit.

Special trade seminars will also take place in India with the support of ProChile’s local office to highlight to buyers the opportunities, challenges and benefits of buying fruits from Chile.

Carvajal said the trade mission would focus on communicating three key messages.

"Firstly, Chile’s supply season from October to March, which complements India and Dubai’s existing blueberry import programs from mainly the U.S. and Canada," he said.

"Secondly, Chile’s experience of complying with market regulations and customer requests in its role as the world’s leading exporter of fresh blueberries. 

"And thirdly, Chile’s commitment to growing the market in both India and Dubai where we appreciate blueberries are not a traditional product and will require active promotional campaigns in retail outlets and foodservice channels to help importers and distributors better sell the fruit."

The delegation will also draw attention to the new blueberry varieties being produced by Chilean growers that can travel further with firmer, slightly larger fruit that delivers a sweeter eating experience.


India is a mega market of 1.3 billion people and benefits from a growing economy, an expanding middle class and developing retail and foodservice industries.

As of this year, Chilean blueberries entering India will be facilitated by a new commercial agreement between the two nations, following almost a decade of negotiations.

"India has never been a priority market for Chilean blueberries because we’ve never had unrestricted access before,” Armstrong explained .

"Now we have the green light to export to India, we hope to send the first blueberries this coming season (2017-18), following our trade mission."

There are important opportunities for Chilean blueberries in India, according to Carolina Vasquez, ProChile director in New Delhi.

"Consumers, both in rural and urban parts of India, continue to prefer fresh products,” she said.

"For berries, and blueberries in particular, we see growth opportunities in the medium term since the fruit is fairly new to the market."

While the potential in India is important, Vasquez noted the challenges facing the market must be taken into account, particularly in cold chain logistics.

"Until a few years ago, deficiencies were evident in the cool chain. But since then the sector has taken stock of the situation and put increasing efforts into finding alternatives and making improvements," she said.


The UAE represents a market of 9.2 million people. It continues to present great potential for Chilean fruits due to its high dependence on imported foods (mainly perishables like fresh fruit) and the growth of its tourism sector.

Furthermore, its business and financial capital Dubai remains a vital re-export hub, serving as a gateway to the entire Middle East, as well as India and Pakistan.

“Chile has more than 25 years’ experience of exporting fresh fruit to the UAE, from where we gain access to 200 million consumers,” explained Sharif Chacoff, commercial attaché of ProChile in the UAE.

“The trade is worth over US$93 million and has grown by 4% per annum in the last 10 years."

In 2016 alone, Chilean fruit exports to the UAE rose by 12%. During the same year, tourism totalled 15.2 million people – a figure which could reach up to 20 million by 2020.

However, Chacoff added there remained significant important logistical challenges to be overcome.

“Due to the absence of direct sea routes, shipments from Chile take 40-45 days, which limits the varieties that can reach this region,” he said.

"The consolidation of cargo in charter boats could be one solution, shortening the transit time by 10 days. As for airfreight, the addition of a stop in Chile by Qatar Airways, scheduled for January 2018, will benefit cherries and berries."

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