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Early Chilean Bumper Crop Raises Challenges

January 09, 2017

The early start to the 2016/2017 blueberry season may be breaking records, including the largest weekly shipment of over 10,500 tons in week 48 (never before had this figure exceeded 10,000 tons), but it is also putting producers to the test.

Despite the seemingly favourable figures emerging from the early blueberry season, all that glitters is not gold, and according to a report published by the Chilean Blueberry Committee , there is little cause for celebration as, “such an abundance of fruit in the same week only pushes prices down, and not just in Chile. There have also been significant increases in output from both Peru and Mexico, which doubled their production from last season and this growth is expected to continue in the coming years".

Although the analysis focuses on North America, which accounts for 62 percent of shipments to date, the situation is also true of the European market, which has been slow this year and has also seen a marked drop in prices.

In line with the overall picture of the blueberry season, at the time of the publication of the report, shipments far exceeding historical volumes for Asia (18 percent of exports) were set to arrive on the continent. China, which following the signing of a bilateral protocol at the end of 2016 will also begin importing Peruvian blueberries, currently stands out as the largest and fastest growing far Eastern market for the berry. As such, producers have increased the volume of exports to Asia so as to counterbalance, in the short term, the low prices and lack of demand in North America.

Compounding the difficulties caused by an early bumper crop and increased competition are the surplus stocks of frozen blueberries held in the United States, which are causing further negative pressure on prices and affecting the volume of exports to this market.

Low market prices seem to be the characterizing feature of the first third of the season for the sector, however it remains to be seen how the market will evolve over the next weeks .


Pictures:Chilean blueberry committee



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