Berries: Chile's big bet on the international fruit market

The export of Chilean berries has grown on average 20% annually in the last decade, reaching US $ 896 million last year. Thus, our country ranks as the third largest exporter worldwide, only behind Spain and the United States. Only in fresh blueberries, Chile is the main exporter worldwide, while in frozen raspberries it is the second.

For years, Chile has been known abroad as an exporter of copper, wine and even salmon, but there is a family of products that has positioned the country as one of the world's leading exporters: berries.

It is expected that this year the global demand for these fruits will grow 1,9% in volume, thanks to the tendency of consumers towards wellness, due to the antioxidant properties attributed to them. Within this category are strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, currants, blueberries and blueberries or blueberries. Most are sold abroad as fresh, frozen or organic fruit.

The export of Chilean berries has grown on average 20% annually in the last decade, going from the US $ 155 million in 2006 to the US $ 896 million last year, according to figures from ProChile. The boom of this product reached such a level that today our country is the third largest exporter of berries in the world (adding fresh and frozen fruit), only behind Spain and the United States.

In the family of berries, the star is the blueberry, which thanks to its antioxidant properties, has easily entered developed markets in a permanent search to incorporate healthy foods into their diet. In fact, only in fresh blueberries, Chile is the main exporter worldwide.

Of the US $ 896 million in berries exported during the past year, blueberries represented the 72% (US $ 645 million).

The main destination for exports of these products is the United States, which in 2015 imported berries from Chile for US $ 482 million, which is equivalent to 53,7% of the cake. From 2006 to date, shipments to this country have grown 16%.

Although Chilean blueberries abroad are increasingly well known, we have strong competitors, such as Spain, which has the 16% stake in a market that worldwide last year moved US $ 7.368 million. The second largest player in the industry is the United States, with an 13% share and shipments that reached US $ 987 million. In third place is Chile, with 11% participation.

This figure has grown since 10 years ago, when Chilean exports of berries reached US $ 278 million and ranked fourth, behind Spain, the United States and Mexico.

How is the season coming?

The president of the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile (Asoex), Ronald Bown, clarifies that considering only fresh shipments, "Chile is the second largest producer of blueberries worldwide and the main international exporter"Says Bown.

Regarding the projections, Bown sponsors that for this 2016-2017 season, moderate growth is expected in the total volume of shipments of fresh blueberries. "In the coming seasons we should have a more significant growth, when the production of the new varieties that have been renewed with force in recent years begins"Bown explained.

On the other hand, Felipe Rosas, director of the Chilean consultant expert in berries, RConsulting, indicates that for this harvest season that has just begun, an increase in the price of strawberries, a drop in the price of raspberries, and the frozen blueberries, and a maintenance on the fresh blueberries.

In relation to this last fruit, it indicates that this season it is expected that the exports are of 95 thousand tons of fresh blueberries, plus 35 thousand tons of processed blueberries (mainly frozen). However, due to weather factors, the current season was two weeks ahead of schedule, so it points out that the 95 thousand tons will most likely not be met. "When seasons advance or fall behind, expectations are not met"He says.

As for the raspberries that are only exported frozen, he points out that there are no great expectations, since in Chile there is still a lot of unsold stock and the price would be in the order of $ 1.000 per kilo due to the "Large production of Poland and Serbia", Two of the main European exporters. Chile is the world's second largest exporter of frozen raspberries, according to ProChile data.

Regarding strawberries, Rosas anticipates a year of interesting prices, due to the lower production in Poland (one of the main European exporters), and the lowest stock in the US.

As for the berries, Rosas says that these are not so important because there are only 900 hectares planted in Chile, compared to the 10 thousand of raspberries or the 1.600 of strawberries. "The biggest problem is that Serbia, the main European exporter, had a harvest and the prices are US $ 1.200 per ton, half of last year. The US pays more, but buys another type of arrears, not those produced by Chile, so that Chile will not be able to hang on to US prices."He says.


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