Chile and the paradigm shift in the blueberry market ...
"This change will penetrate the businesses of all companies and partner organizations involved in blueberries: it's time to really focus on the consumer experience in blueberries."
In recent days an opinion column by Cort Brazelton, Co-CEO of FallCreek Farm & Nursery has been published, titled "Blueberries from 2019 to 2020: the turning point."
In his words, Brazelton makes an analysis of the behavior of the blueberry market in recent years and puts the focus on the power of demand to explain the changes that currently star the behavior of world consumption.
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"Since the rise in blueberry consumption began with the release of health messages in the late 90s, industry growth and business opportunities have been fundamentally driven by supply," ensures, giving credit to the push and management of the industry to explain this expansion of consumption.
Brazelton, considering that the offer is the support of this growth and not the healthy qualities of the fruit, does not minimize the superfood properties of the blueberry, nor does it diminish its antioxidant, antibiotic or nutraceutical qualities as qualitative elements that have contributed to the international growth of consumption, but he maintains that it is the abundant offer that explains his ancestry in the global fruit market. Above all, in the case of fresh fruit.
This is important, because many experts bet that only the healthy properties of the product were enough to ensure the growth of their consumption and thereby maintain good business prospects.
Clearly it is these healthy strengths that ideologically justify the consumption of the blueberry in a rational way, but Brazelton is right in ensuring that the growth in demand for the blueberry - to the point of including it in the human diet - is due to the permanent increase in supply, the professionalization of the industry and the communicational and informative perseverance regarding all aspects of the crop, which explains the good position that blueberries have in world markets.
Brazelton feels surprised that this reality has been prolonged for so long and the equation has not been converted, so that it has been the demand that marks the development of the industry and not vice versa, as usual.
The Co-CEO of FallCreek Farm & Nursery, Inc. warned years ago that this equation was going to turn, because it was impossible that an informed, demanding, monitoring and attentive consumer to sustainability, would not have imposed their conditions by raising quality standards .
This “prolonged adolescence”, as Brazelton calls it, would be explained by the behavior of the markets, the management in the garden and the slowness in the genetic development, among other reasons, and places 2019 as the year in which this reality is condemned to change radically.
“In the last 10 years in particular, the advent of new genetics in low categories and without chills combined with new horticultural techniques and cultivation systems (for example, growth of structures, substrate, nutrition and pruning techniques, etc.) have changed the game, opening new growing regions, new sources of supply and new means of production ”, sustains, and adds regarding market times: “In the next few years, the peaks will eventually look more like hills than mountains, and the channels will begin to look more like ditches than valleys".
Cort Brazelton places 2020 as the year of the "paradigm shift" regarding the production, marketing and consumption of blueberries in the world.
"There is a substantial change in the expectations of the consumer (B2C) and the final and retail handler (B2B) regarding the quality offered and the quality demanded ”, he warns, although he acknowledges that in the coming years the market will still be driven by supply, but insists that 2019 was the beginning of the transition from “An industry driven by supply to a quality driven industry”, and calls to face and adapt to this inevitable reality. "This change will penetrate the businesses of all companies and partner organizations involved in blueberries: it's time to really focus on the consumer experience in blueberries, ” he affirms
CHILE AND CHANGE
“The rules of the business model that have worked for years, even decades, will be challenged by this new paradigm. Some will play defense and others will look for ways to reflect, adapt and play a strong offensive (...) The Chilean industry that, after the US. UU. is the most established and mature blueberry industry in the world, it has an effort in the whole industry to play both offensive and defensive ”, Brazelton says.
In fact, Chile has made efforts in recent years to professionalize the entire process, from the garden to the final reception, rapidly advancing in the varietal change, the application of more and better technology, and modernizing the management. Always aiming to achieve higher quality results as a distinctive element of its fruit. A work that has led the Committee of Blueberries and has the support of all who are in the same development perspective.
In our case, collaborating with seminars and meetings to transfer the best and most current knowledge from the Academy, Science or research of experts, and sharing the abundant information through our website, newsletters, Blue Magazine and all the communication tools we have. Always in the perspective of raising the quality standards of the product.
The question is whether the Chilean industry will be able to maintain - or recover - its privileged place in the markets under the parameters of this new paradigm. Because in Brazelton's words:
"No one stays still. The new industries in places like Morocco, Mexico, Peru and southern Africa are still in the middle of the establishment phases and have the opportunity to make appropriate investments in systems, varieties, infrastructure and technology not yesterday, but tomorrow. ”
The worrying thing in the case of the Chilean industry is the low level of homogeneity of the product. Shipments with fruit in deteriorated conditions or without reaching the required optimum quality levels are repeated more than due. Solving it is a task that is underway and must continue to be enhanced to achieve minimum levels of homogeneity, until good quality is the hallmark of the fruit offered by the Chilean industry.
The hope is that the Chilean industry began the path of varietal replacement and adjustments of its production a while ago, so it takes advanced ground to face this new paradigm that Brazelton announces. But much remains to be done. It is everyone's job to collaborate, from the different roles or spaces each one has. It all adds up.
It is not only the varietal change, it is not only professionalizing the garden, nor applying the most innovative of technologies as it will be possible to raise the standards of product quality. It is with all the previous ones, in a permanent task of integral transfer. Because it is with more and better knowledge, more shared experience, more management and professionalization of the entire production process, more science, much more research and an abundant communication diffusion the way to homogenize quality standards.
A work of integral transfer to the different actors of the productive process that points in the same direction of the whole industry.
“There is no single path to this result. There are many. No company controls the route. However, if we are in the blueberry business, we are all in the same truck. At the risk of mixing metaphors, the opportunity to grow the cake is much greater than the opportunity to steal pieces from others. ” Ends the sharp look of Cort Brazelton, who is a broad connoisseur of the global industry and protagonist of the history of blueberry.
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