Chile: Reduction in the volume of fresh blueberries exported is less than projected

Through the month of October, the reduction in the total number of fresh blueberries exported reached 6%, two percentage points less than what was projected by the Chilean Blueberry Committee.

The Office of Agrarian Studies and Policies published the figures that describe the export of Chilean blueberries between January and October of this year. 

There are 90.645 tons of fresh blueberries that have been exported from the country, for a value of USD FOB 360 million. Compared to the same period during 2021, the volume decreased by 6% while the value of exported fresh blueberries fell by 26,72%.

It should be noted that during September and October Peru reaches its maximum production levels. Therefore, the October prices partly reflect the large supply that exists in the market given the arrival of the Peruvian blueberries harvested during September to the main markets.

Regarding the volume produced, its reduction still does not reach what was projected by the Chilean Blueberry Committee, who forecast a drop of 8% in the export of fresh blueberries.

The above figures place the blueberry as the fourth most exported fresh fruit in Chile.

The first place is held by cherry. Until October, 285.000 equivalent tons have been exported for USD FOB 1500 million. Its volume increased by 7,3%, while the value of the fruits sent abroad grew by 26,3%. Chile is the leading exporter of cherries in the southern hemisphere, with a market share of 95,7%. 

Cherry is followed by table grape and apple, in second and third place respectively.

Given the increase in production costs for exporting fresh fruit and the logistical problems of past seasons, many producers have decided to export their blueberry production as a frozen product.

Between January and October of this year, 48.086 tons of frozen blueberries were shipped, 8.6% more than in the previous period. Regarding the value, it increased by 26,1% reaching USD FOB 130 million.

These results coincide with the projection made by the Blueberry Committee, who expected that part of the producers dedicated to the export of fresh blueberries during the past year, would dedicate themselves to sending frozen fruit during this season.

The total export of blueberries, in all its formats, decreased by 1,21%, sending 149.412 tons abroad for USD FOB 654 million. The total value of blueberry exports decreased by 14.82%.

productive regions

In 2021, the most productive regions were Maule, Ñuble, Araucanía and O'Higgins, as can be seen in the table that compares the volumes and values ​​exported in the period January-October 2021 and 2022.

Already with the course of this season, changes in the productivity of the main producing regions can be observed.

The O'Higgins region exceeds Ñuble compared to the same period last year. Ñuble, a region located to the south of O'Higgins and Maule, decreased the volume exported by 10,4%, the value of which fell by 36.8%. At the same time, O'Higgins increased its production by 27,1%, reaching 15.059 tons. This increase in production is reflected in the value of the total shipped, which rose by 11,4%.

The Biobío region has also surpassed Araucanía so far this season. This is due to the large drop in the production of fresh blueberries in the latter region, which reached 43.2%.

La Araucanía is located in the south of Chile, where agro-industrial activity has been affected by protests through acts of violence, in the context of the conflict of the native Mapuche people. 

It should be noted that of the regions that register an increase in the volume of fresh blueberries exported, only two of them also agree with a positive percentage variation with respect to the value of the total of that production: O'Higgins and Coquimbo. In the rest of the regions studied, the value of what was exported between January and October 2022 decreased compared to the same period in 2021.

Traditionally, the cultivation of blueberries in Chile has occurred in the center-south of the country. However, the table allows us to show the growth of production in the north, specifically the Coquimbo region.

Although the volume is still small compared to the rest of the zones, its growth rate until October reached 44%. This region is located on the southern edge of the Atacama Desert, where temperatures are warmer throughout the year and Low-Chill or No-Chill varieties can be grown. The value of what was exported during the same period increased by 26%. 

You can find more information about the state and progress of the Chilean blueberry industry in the XXV International Seminar Blueberries Consulting Chile 2023. We bring together prominent businessmen, leaders, producers, suppliers, researchers and academics specialized in blueberries, and on this occasion, as a guest grower of cherries, on April 13 at the Monticello Conference Center.  

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