Chilean blueberry opens season with U.S. exports uptick
The 2023-24 Chilean blueberry season is underway, with overall shipments now at 1,500 tons, representing a 25% increase year-on-year.
Chilean Blueberry Committee Executive Director Andrés Armstrong tells FreshFruitPortal.com that this figure represents only a 2% of the season’s projection. The sector has continued to work on varietal change, looking to more cost efficient cultivars.
Armstrong says that, while they are seeing some degree of varietal change this season, this is yet to translate to export volumes.
"In the short term, this means that we are going to be lowering our volume, probably next season as well, but we are going to be improving our export base," he indicates.
Regarding the varieties exported to date, Armstrong says the main varieties exported are Ventura, the new CB1219, Emerald, Rocío and Suzie Blue.
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"Of what we have exported today, 53% corresponds to new varieties," he points out.
According to Armstrong, the start of the season has been very atypical, "we have shipped 25% more fruit and it is concentrated in Asia, with 56%, and in the U.S. with 42%. Then comes Canada, Europe and the Middle East."
He specifies that U.S. shipments have tripled its volume, while Asia remains the main market to start the season, with a strong presence in Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
"To date, the volume of Asia, if we compare it with the previous season, shows a 7% drop. There have been opportunities in the U.S. where there is an increase of 122% to date. There are opportunities with organic products, where 60% of what we have shipped to date to the U.S. is organic," he says.
As for marketing strategies, the executive director explains that the committee is working on improving quality improvement procedures, as well as logistics.
“This season we’re re-launching our Blueberry Express service to the U.S., which allows us to have the fruit in the market within two weeks or less. Everything is ready to begin with this service, and we hope to be arriving by week 48 of 49 to the east coast,” Armstrong says.