United States: A market where quality has become a crucial element for blueberries

After a challenging December month, the supply and demand of blueberries in North America is stabilizing again.

"We are in the middle of the Chilean season at the moment," said Luciano Fiszman, of Gourmet Trading Co., in Redondo Beach, California, who points out that while the north central zone of Chile has finished production, the southern zone is in March. “We expect an adequate volume. But this year the weather has been hard for the south and north central, which will present challenges for the south. It is still unclear how much volume Chile will see at the end of its season. ”

At this time, most of the blueberries in North America come from Chile. But some smaller volumes are also arriving from Peru, which is finishing its production, and Mexico. In addition there is a small amount of California.

Unusual end of the year: low prices in December

This campaign the market has been under greater pressure. The market was largely dominated by Peru from September to December, and prices in December were lower than in previous years. "At the end of the year, the market saw very low prices," added Fiszman, noting that the values ​​were below the breakeven point for producers and had a direct impact on supply.

This, according to the professional, because in the North American market a new scenario for the blueberry is being configured. He explained that there was a time when only Chile and Argentina could get an overseas agreement for the supply of blueberries, while now Peru and Mexico also contribute their offer. In fact, he added, "This year Peru will produce more fresh blueberries than Chile." Therefore, the market in the autumn and winter windows has changed because there is more production from other countries. "

So what happened in December? The month saw balanced prices for producers until Christmas and until early January, but then fell. “There was much more product in December 2019 than in 2018, and like most of the retailers they made promotions in October and November, they took a break in December and didn't promote so much. ” In previous years, December was a market with high prices, ”said Fiszman. "But there was still a lot of production, so this December there was no good market because everyone had an offer."

A year ago

That is a quite different picture compared to December 2018. "The previous year, the market sank until November because there were not enough promotions to absorb the volume," Fiszman continues. “The market wanted more promotions in December and, therefore, the market was large. There was a lot of consumption, retailers They moved many products, everyone was happy. That is the power of promotions. ”

The situation in December 2019 meant that in January 2020, producers in Peru and Chile chose not to send as much product to rebalance the market. “Now they are meeting again and, therefore, the price is better this week than last week. I hope prices stay firm next week too, ”adds Fiszman.

That said, he points out that the price increase means that he is returning to the level where blueberry prices should be. “Prices are rising again. They will remain stable until February because Chile will continue with the product and Mexico will introduce its offer. Prices will be better in February than in January, but neither will they be historical prices. ” Although Mexico began producing three months ago, cold temperatures have slowed production. Fiszman anticipates that Mexico will reach its peak in March and April.

Quality, Quality and Quality

All of this means that countries competing to supply blueberries to North America during fall and winter are still working on how to coexist. "The market has to learn to move the fruit in a way that everyone benefits," Fiszman said, adding that things like package sizes and prices could evolve.

But he also points out that with such strong competition, there is something else that is becoming increasingly important in the product. "You can no longer offer a product below average at this time of year," concluded Fiszman. "The competition puts a lot of pressure and quality is crucial."

Source
FreshPlaza

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