Blueberries from Chile, a superfood that is consolidated in the world
In recent decades, Chile has become an exporter of a huge variety of foods that today reach more than 170 markets, meeting demanding production and world-quality standards, thanks to strong collaboration between public institutions and the private sector. Chile is today a reliable, sustainable supplier, which involves a strong respect for tradition and origin, with thousands of people dedicated to the different phases of production in a special bond of care with their land and territory.
Chile is today the leading fruit exporting country in the southern hemisphere, with special leadership in cherries and plums. Beyond this, the country also has a huge range of fruits in its export portfolio, including blueberries, a fruit whose commercial cultivation began in Chile in the mid-80s, reaching a higher degree of Expansion from the 90s, with a large number of varieties adapted to the geographical conditions of the south-central zone of the country.
In fact, with a length of more than 4.000 kilometers, the country offers a wide range of agricultural conditions that are favorable for this crop. According to expert analysis, the planted area increased by 4.000 hectares in ten years (+30%), while exports of fresh blueberries increased by 23%, reaching a maximum of 117.000 tons in the 2020/21 season.
This has led the country to position itself as one of the main exporters of fresh blueberries in the world, reaching a shipment record during the 2020/2021 season, with an increase of 6% in volume compared to the previous season. It is estimated that varietal turnover and the new preharvest and postharvest technologies implemented have influenced this increase.
The global blueberry market is growing at high speed. The main producing countries today strive to increase and improve their offer, while the destinations increase and sophisticate their consumption. This is indicated by Rabobank in a report on planetary trends for this fruit, in which it anticipates increases in production in Peru and Mexico.
“According to the analysis unit of the Dutch financial institution, per capita consumption in the US could exceed 1,5 kg per person per year, while the EU-27 and China could show cumulative growth of around 100 % and 200% respectively in 2027, compared to 2021 levels”.
In Chile, blueberry production is exported between November and early April. According to the projections, for the current season a behavior very similar to what was the 2021/2022 season is expected. In parallel, Chilean producers have been improving the varieties so that the fruit better expresses its flavor and sweetness. This has also meant the option of leaving some of the previous varieties for frozen fruit production and for other industrial uses.
Importance of organic blueberries
In the Chilean case, the production of organic blueberries has been a driver of the increase in Chilean exports of the product, with shipments destined mainly to the United States and Europe. Today this type of crops in the country is equivalent to approximately 17% of the total area (14.000 ha).
Europe is the second most important market for Chilean organic blueberries, with a 20% share in the 2020/21 season, which meant a 17% growth compared to 2019/20 in volumes. In total, 4.100 tons were shipped, nearly 600 tons more than in the 2019/20 season. This is also thanks to the equivalence agreement between Chile and the EU on the equivalence of standards for the certification of organic products. Today, fresh blueberries reach markets such as the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy and France, among others.
By virtue of the Association Agreement between Chile and the European Union, Chilean blueberries enter the market free of tariffs and from the phytosanitary point of view, they only require proper inspection.
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