Agronometrics Interviews: A tour of the Chilean blueberry season with Giddings Berries USA

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Agronometrics Interviews: A tour of the Chilean blueberry season with Giddings Berries USA

In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Interviews’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the state of the Chilean Blueberry season in an exclusive interview with the Director of Sales for Giddings Berries USA, Helena Beckett. The series is based on interviews with esteemed professionals from the industry, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.

Chile is committed to discovering new and improved blueberry cultivars that deliver an exceptional taste and textural experience for consumers. The worldwide market for Chilean blueberries is projected to grow as nouveau technology for cultivation, harvesting, packaging, and transportation is researched and incorporated. The fruit is a powerhouse of vitamins C and K, and is rich in manganese and potassium and therefore fairly high in demand. Below, Helena Beckett of Giddings Berries USA answers some of the questions we have about the ongoing rebirth of Chilean blueberries.

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Q: How has the Chilean season played out so far? Has it measured up to expectations?

It’s been a quick season. It started a little bit later than we had expected here, but

the peak came quickly compared to last year. Everything arrived on time. For Giddings, the

quality was better this year than last year because we focused on quality standards, eliminating time from cut-to-cool, and expedited delivery to the US market. We also stopped exporting earlier than in the past due to quality concerns related to rain and high summer temperatures.

Q: What are some of the challenges currently being faced by the industry? 

The geography of Chile being so spread out makes logistics difficult in terms of getting the

product from farms to warehouses and packing facilities. The distance to market, to the US,

Europe and Asia is so much farther compared to that for domestic production and compared to that for Mexico and Peru. Focusing on faster logistics from Chile to market and investing in

better varieties is key to delivering the quality the market demands.

Q: What is, or what should, Chile be doing address those challenges

First, focus on newer varieties. Second, focus on areas that have a short distance between the farm, cooling, the packing facility, and easy access to ports. Quality, eating experience and shelf-life are the demands of the market. Focusing on the end consumer is key to increasing demand.

Q: What makes Chilean blueberries stand out against the competition?  

This time of the year, other souring regions are not producing as much, so Chile has the best

volume of supply into the US, for the December/January period.

Q: What will the foreseeable future look like for the industry in your viewpoint and what are your expectations? 

I think Chile will continue to be a player as long as we focus on the better varieties, getting the

product to market faster, and only sending the best quality since there is increasing competition from other growing regions now. It all looks good if we are focused and competitive with other sourcing regions.

Q: How important is data to you as a blueberry marketer? 

Data is very important in quantifying and qualifying the quality of the fruit when it arrives in the

US so from a marketer’s perspective, we do use the data from when it left at the source and

when it arrives in the US and that’s a very important part of our process. We look at the quality

inspections for the fruit, compared to the USDA and what we need here to move it within the US and then do the same QC report on arrival. Sometimes within a couple of days of arrival, we perform another inspection because the transit time really affects the quality of the fruit and the shelf life. Historical volume data is a useful resource for forecasting future supply.

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.

All pricing for domestic US produce represents the spot market at Shipping Point (i.e. packing house/climate controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the pricing data represents the spot market at Port of Entry.

You can keep track of the markets daily through Agronometrics, a data visualization tool built to help the industry make sense of the huge amounts of data that professionals need to access to make informed decisions. If you found the information and the charts from this article useful, feel free to visit us at where you can easily access these same graphs, or explore the other 21 commodities we currently track.


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