Argentina: Blueberry production takes hold and has already generated 110 million dollars in 2014

Although Argentina's production of cranberry is relatively new -with only thirty years of history-, in the last decade the surface implanted has increased sixfold - it went from 400 to 2.600 hectares-. Thus, in 2014 reached a production record with exports that reached 16,5 thousand tons and income by 110 million dollars, informed the National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA).

According to data from the Association of Blueberry Producers of Mesopotamia Argentina (Apama), the 2014 campaign closed with a total of 16.500 tons of blueberries, which meant a growth close to 30%, compared to the previous season, for a value of 110 million dollars.

According to Gonzalo Carlazara, Apama technical advisor, this campaign was characterized by "the good quality of fruit that we were able to offer, which helps us to position ourselves as a leading country in the product offering of the Southern Hemisphere".

The report of the Argentine Committee of Blueberries (ABC) highlighted that "the volume exported by Argentina as a scoop -between August and October- was 10.665 tons, which represents the 80% of the exported by all the suppliers of South America in that period".

"Beyond the usual destinations such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe and some Asian countries, last year we were able to incorporate destinations that were not usual for this fruit, such as Russia and the United Arab Emirates."Said Carlazara who also said that they are working on the protocols that will enable them to export fresh fruit to China, Japan and Korea.

With a production of 7.700 tons, the NEA - Entre Ríos, Corrientes and Misiones - leads the exports, followed by the NOA -Tucumán- with 5.700 and Buenos Aires with 1.700.

From 2011, together with INTA Concordia, Apama technicians carry out yield evaluations, fertilization trials, pollination, behavior of different varieties adapted to the region, postharvest trials, fruit firmness and acidity, among others.

"Every year we evaluate up to three new varieties and follow traditional varieties", Said the Apama technician who added:"The evaluations served us for the varietal replacement, for example, the O'Neil variety was slowly displaced to give way to other earlier and more productive varieties such as Snowchaser and Emerald, which are the two most planted in the NEA".

On the other hand, María Fernanda Rivadeneira -specialist in fruit ecophysiology at INTA Concordia-, explained that although the production of blueberries in the country is new, in the last decade, the implanted surface has increased sixfold -from 400 to 2.600 hectares- so it stopped being an alternative production to be currently a consolidated fruit in the region.

In line with this strong growth, the technique estimates that "the demand for blueberries, worldwide, will increase, especially in those countries with high purchasing power", and I add: "There is a growing trend in the patterns of consumption towards natural products with beneficial components for health, among which this fruit is located".

In reference to the domestic market, Rivadeneira indicated that "Consumption in Argentina is practically non-existent and underdeveloped, so that, up to now, the production and export figures are practically identical".

In Argentina all the fruit that is dedicated to industry is frozen, exported and processed at the place of destination. "We at Concordia, three years ago we are working on the processing of blueberries such as jellies, sweets, jams, juice, liquor and wine, on a commercial scale"Said Carlazara.

The opening of the sector towards industrialization generates great expectations of growth for the regional economy and opens new markets. "A group of businessmen were interested in exporting the dried fruit to China, to consume it as it happens"He said, according to Diario Río Uruguay.



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