Uruguay expects 65% rise in blueberry exports
The Union of Horticultural Producers and Exporters of Uruguay (Upefruy) estimated exports would rise by 65% year-on-year to 2,000 metric tons (MT), up from 1,210MT last year.
The small South American country has been hit by numerous hail storms over the last couple of years, which have at times destroyed 100% of production on some farms.
"This year we have been on alert regarding what would happen with the weather," said Upefruy's Marta Bentancur, who added it was still a conservative figure.
Exports will begin in August, with volumes to peak in September and October and wind down in November.
Last season 45% was sent to the U.S. and 35% to Europe, all via airfreight. This year, however, Bentancur expected to see 40% shipped to the U.S., 45% to Europe and 15% to the U.K.
The representative also pointed out that Chinese market access had been finalized in late 2016, but the market remained unattractive due to a 30% tariff.
"For now we are going to maintain and develop the markets we already have like the U.S. and Canada, Europe and the U.K., Hong Kong and Malaysia," she said.
One objective this year is also to explore new ways related to packing and transportation that the industry can become more competitive.
"Although we're still a small sector, we aim to compete with both high quality and good prices," she said.
"We have to develop the industry in Uruguay, putting emphasis on the taste and color of the fruit, and trying to be more rational in the use of resources to be more competitive on price, as we see that while the demand is growing, the Southern Hemisphere supplies are growing even more."