Blueberries in Charts: With prices at their highest so far this year, will they continue to rise?

October 17 , 2018

In this ‘In Charts‘ series of mini-articles, Colin Fain of data visualization tool Agronometrics illustrates how the U.S. market is evolving. In each series, he will look at a different fruit commodity, focusing on a different origin or topic in each installment to see what factors are driving change.

To introduce our Custom Reports Lab, I thought I would use the tool to help understand the current blueberry markets.

The Custom Reports Lab, which we released this week, allows any user of the system to cross data from multiple datasets into a single report. In the chart below we use the tool to show the prices and volumes of blueberries on the U.S. market, which, as a special treat for the launch, I built as a weekly report. Because of all the different packages used in the industry, I am using the average of price per pound to better capture the trends and help tell our story.

The U.S. blueberry market is characterized by big price swings driven by the volume of fruit that arrives to satisfy customer demand. The chart below demonstrates the relationship between the price and the volume better than just about any other commodity we work with. Looking towards the end of the chart we can see that blueberry prices have been rising steadily for the last nine weeks, culminating in the highest price we have seen this year so far. In tandem with this has been a steady drop in volumes, which was mostly undisrupted until last week’s shipments arrived from Peru.

U.S. Conventional Blueberry Volumes and Prices

(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics)

So as all this is shaping up, it is important to keep in mind the historical information that precedes the current movements. Interestingly, the prices we are now seeing are almost perfectly aligned with last year, which abruptly fell in week 41. So what can we expect this year? It’s worth mentioning that the current prices levels are by no means a ceiling. Looking at 2015 we can see that the market has much farther to go.

US Blueberry Shipping Point Weekly Historical Prices per Lb

(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics)

When trying to understand the markets, often our best source of information is historical data. Looking at this year’s movements we can see that the volumes are surprisingly similar to in 2015.

So can we expect prices upwards of $8.23/pound this year as well? My immediate answer is that it is very unlikely, but as any good analyst would say, it depends. As a guide for how the market may react going forward, I would look at the gap in volumes between 2015 and 2017 to very roughly help explain the difference in pricing between those years.

US Blueberry Weekly Historical Movements

(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics)

Last year Argentina and Peru combined forces to produce the higher volumes reported in the market, but with delays expected from Argentina this year, Peru might have the market to itself for the next couple of weeks.

The whole story can’t be told without looking at Peru’s exports to the U.S. So far they line up pretty well with last year, and if that remains the case I think that prices will continue to rise over the next couple of weeks. But if the volumes suddenly triple, prices will most likely stagnate. In the short-to-medium term, it will be important to look out for Peru’s expected 60% increase in exports. With Argentina also expecting increased volumes, prices could even dip below last years as the Peruvian, Argentine and Chilean seasons begin to overlap.

US Blueberry Volumes from Peru

(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics)

In our ‘In Charts’ series, we work to tell some of the stories that are moving the industry. Feel free to take a look at the other articles by clicking here.

Agronometrics is a data visualization tool built to help the industry make sense of the huge amounts of data that you depend on. We strive to help farmers, shippers, buyers, sellers, movers and shakers get an objective point of view on the markets to help them make informed strategic decisions. If you found the information and the charts from this article useful, feel free to visit us at www.agronometrics.com where you can easily recreate these same graphs, or explore the other 23 fruits we currently track, creating your own reports automatically updated with the latest data daily.

To welcome blueberry professionals to the service we want to offer a 5% discount off your first month or year with the following coupon code: BLUEBERRIES

The code will only be good till the 30th of October 2018, so visit us today.

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