Chilean blueberries in the US market: Review of the last 10 years and their projections

By Colin Fain, CEO of Agronometrics

colinfainCranberries are far one of the most interesting fresh products. With a steady growth over the last 10 years, it has offered a very attractive business, growing from 67M TM in 2005 to 218M TM in the 2015.

The current reality

Beginning with a basic analysis of the Chilean season, the data provided by the USDA indicates that the market received 56,7 M TM, an increase of 0,6% last year. An unexpectedly cold and rainy spring is the cause of the delay in the volumes exported, to be complemented by more weather problems at the end of the season caused by El Niño. The result has been a volume concentration in the first eight weeks of 2016, where 71% of the volume exported from Chile was received. In general, the price reaction for the Chilean season was in line with what has been seen in previous years, at the beginning and at the end of the season the prices were higher, but still below what was reported last year.

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Market supply

graficocolin2These graphs show quite a few trends in how the market has been evolving over the last decade. In the 2005 with just 67M TM prices in general were well above the historical average, noting large areas of red between the Chile and US season. The difference in price caused by the shortage periods offers opportunities for producers, which the industry has been working hard to take advantage of, closing these windows over time. Much of this work has required years of careful study, exploring new production zones and varieties to offer consumers the fruit when there is availability to pay for it.

Window 1: Term of Chile, principles of the United States

The first window was defined at the end of the season in Chile and at the beginning of the US season. This has been the one that has changed most rapidly in the last 10 years, extending from week 8 to week 22 in 2005 and drastically reducing to get from week 13 to 17 in 2015. The evolution has occurred in part thanks to the continuous development of Chilean production, which increasingly plants more volume in the south of the country, producing fruit later in the season. It is also important to note the evolution of the US season, which has been advancing towards the beginning of the season more and more, with notable growth in the southern productive areas of the country such as Florida. On the other hand, you can not leave out Mexico that sends 70% of its volume between the 8 and 21 week. In the 2010 this origin had surpassed the mark of 1M TM in exports to its neighbor of the north, figure that quickly left behind, arriving at the 9M TM during the season of the 2014 / 2015.

Window 2: Term of the United States, principles of Argentina and Chile

In this second window we observe trends, although similar, much less drastic. As can be seen that the northern productive areas of the United States and Canada, the largest suppliers of the market between 28 and 40 weeks, have been growing very much in line with demand, keeping prices very stable during their respective period. On the side of exporters, mainly Argentina and Chile, it is seen that there has been much more push to try to take advantage of the high prices offered. Until the 2011, the two origins drastically increased their exports until the low prices had a great impact on the profitability of the companies. The years to follow have been a little quieter, growing a little faster than the market, but not at the rate that has been observed in the first window. Part of the reason why this window has managed to offer higher prices is also the production cost of the different productive zones. For phytosanitary reasons, all of Argentina's product travels by air, adding a considerable price to that cost, requiring higher prices to ensure profitability for these exporters.

Implications for the future

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Assuming growth in line with what we have seen over the last few years, the volumes needed to maintain the price at USD 9.26 / Kg in the market, it will be able to absorb approximately 192M TM over the next 52 weeks.

In this graph we use the trends observed over the last 10 years to create a forecast of the volumes that should reach the market to maintain the historical price of USD 9.26 / Kg. It is interesting to note that the volume does not exceed the 7 M TM at the height of the US season. and the lowest point in the 41 week approaching 1M TM. Variations in this forecast will impact the price with volumes above reducing the price and volumes below increasing it.

Since different origins have different production costs and incentives to export to the US, it is never expected to reach these volumes, nor to have a stable price throughout the season. Comparing US production, which is in their market, they can profit at prices that are unthinkable for Chile, where the fruit must have enough quality to withstand the crossing to the Northern Hemisphere by boat for two or three weeks before to reach the final consumer, not to mention Argentina that is mentioned previously in this article. However, what by nature happens is that advances in technology, geographical as well as botanical explorations, work constantly to reduce production costs to reach the market when the best prices are offered. A good example of this will be the harvest of Peru, which will compete mainly with Argentina at the beginning of the Chilean season. Its natural advantage will be that the fruit can go by boat offering an alternative to Argentina of less cost.

Colin Fain is the CEO of Agronometrics, a market intelligence platform for agricultural products. For more information visit the website www.agronometrics.com.

Source: Fruit Portal

 

 

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