China main producer and importer of blueberries globally
Just a few days ago, the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agriculture Service released its report “China: Blueberry Annual Voluntary 2023” outlining the state of the Chinese blueberry industry and recent market trends.
According to this report, China replaced the United States as the world's largest producer of blueberries in 2021, while also becoming one of the top importers of blueberries. Blueberry consumption in China is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.
Likewise, data from the International Blueberry Organization (IBO) indicate that the world area planted with blueberries reached 235.400 hectares in 2021, with a total production of 1,79 million metric tons. China ranked first with a planted area of 69.036 hectares, followed by the United States, Chile, Peru and Canada.
During the same year, China imported 29.597 metric tons of blueberries, mainly from Peru and Chile.
Although blueberries are by no means a traditional fruit in China, the continued improvement in living standards and increasing education about the health benefits of eating a variety of fruit have led more and more consumers to consider blueberries as a viable option. Although blueberries are often made into dried fruit snacks to be eaten with dried fruit, fresh blueberries also remain a popular choice among Chinese consumers. Blueberries with large size, high sugar content, attractive appearance, firm texture and long shelf life are highly appreciated in the Chinese market.
Production in China
At present, 26 of China's 34 provincial administrative regions are engaged in the commercial cultivation of blueberries, mainly in greenhouses, open fields, or a combination of both. More than 56% of the blueberries grown in China go to the processing sector.
Guizhou, Liaoning, Shandong, Sichuan, and Yunnan are the main blueberry-producing regions in China. In 2021, these five provinces accounted for 76,8% of China's total blueberry production. Yunnan Province, with its unique climatic and geographical conditions, such as high altitude, wide temperature fluctuation between day and night, and long hours of sunshine, is China's top fresh blueberry-producing region.
In the past five years, major national and international blueberry companies such as Driscoll's from the United States, Costa from Australia and Joy Wing Mau from China have made significant investments in Yunnan. However, blueberry growers in the province now face a major hurdle: it is difficult for them to continue expanding their planting areas, given the strict policies implemented by the Chinese authorities in the past decade to protect arable land for other crops. .
In 2012, China granted market access to blueberries from several countries, including Chile, Mexico, Uruguay, Canada, and Peru. In 2019. Currently, Peru and Chile together account for more than 99% of China's blueberry imports, taking advantage of free trade agreements and off-season availability. Blueberries from these two countries are not subject to a 15% tariff that all other exporters have to pay.
January and February represent the low season for China's domestic blueberries, but the demand for high-quality fruit always increases during the Chinese New Year. For this reason, sales of imported blueberries reach their peak in those two months.
Likewise, it is noted that China approved the entry of fresh US blueberries in May 2020, and the first commercial shipment arrived in July 2021. In the 2022 season, a new variety of blueberries called Peachy was exported from the United States to China. Blue. This new cultivar is characterized by its large size and a unique aromatic flavor reminiscent of peach, which immediately attracted the attention of both greengrocers and consumers. Meanwhile, the export volume of processed US blueberries to China has tripled since 2020, largely attributed to the higher sugar content and softer skin of US blueberries, making them especially suitable for serving as ingredients in beverages and yogurt.
Blueberry consumption in China is expected to continue to grow steadily in the coming years. Due to the high unit price of blueberries, first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen have so far been the main consumer markets, although demand from Northeast China has also increased rapidly in recent years. Currently, Chinese blueberry growers are striving to expand their planting areas and explore new varieties more suitable for the Chinese market.
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