Robbert Leisink, from Fruitful-Berries (Netherlands):

“This blueberry season is being revealing for supermarkets”

The last few weeks have been very difficult for blueberry suppliers, traders and packers due to limited supply volumes from both Peru and South Africa. “Demand, however, remained high and this created a rather strange price situation for a very long period,” says Robbert Leisink of the Dutch company Fruitful-Berries.

“And although in recent years the quality of South African blueberries has been lower than that of the South American product, this year the situation has reversed. Peru is sending blueberries that do not always meet quality parameters in terms of firmness, while South Africa is able to supply berries consistently firm. "El Niño has had a significant impact on both harvested volumes and quality, and it is feared that this phenomenon will continue to affect production in the next two seasons."

“This year has been eye-opening, especially for retailers, who have realized that the product is not standard at the time they place their orders. And the whims of nature determine both the price and the volumes available. This year it has not been so easy to guarantee a consistent and quality supply and this has to help buyers appreciate again the hard work of producers and suppliers who try to always offer a product that satisfies the demands of the market,” says Robbert. “And although producers are now paid higher prices, we cannot forget that the harvest comes with 50% less volume than in previous years. In fact, I don't know if the high prices compensate for the loss of kilos."

“In the coming weeks we will see good arrivals of blueberries until week 48/49, but they still will not be enough to supply the entire market as we have been accustomed to in recent years. Prices will remain high because it is expected that there will be a shortage of product again in the month of December,” says the Dutch importer. “Ultimately, the market situation remains challenging and keeps everyone alert and fighting to obtain the best results for both their customers and producers. Together we will have to get through this period and that can only be achieved through a good line of communication and fair pricing for producers.”

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