"Hortifrut's first Peruvian blueberries arrive in China"

Hortifrut's first container of Peruvian blueberries was inaugurated in the port of Shenzhen on July 19. The product arrived in good quality and started to be sold in the Guangzhou Jiangnan wholesale market at a good price.

Sandra Wenz, Commercial Manager of Hortifrut's Asia Platform said: "The blueberries that arrived are of the Ventura and Magnifica varieties. Both arrived in excellent condition, great flowering and with good size and firmness, and especially the Magnifica variety has a high Brix level."

“Blueberries were well received in the market. They were quickly delivered to wholesalers and retailers, and prices ranged from 130 to 140 yuan [19,27 to 20,76 USD]. Several pallets of blueberries were immediately purchased when the container arrived at the Guangzhou Jiangnan wholesale market. Most of the buyers are wholesalers from North China.” Sandra said. "We hope to receive blueberries of the same quality in the next containers that should arrive in the next few days. Hopefully, they will receive the same market conditions when they arrive in China."

"We expect to ship 40% more blueberries to China this season."

Sandra then presented how the Peruvian blueberry season has been going so far: “Thanks to the unique climatic conditions in Peru, we are able to produce throughout the year. This year we are quite late, because we have not had a mild winter like in the previous season that allowed us to give a great start to the output of our Peruvian exports in mid-May. We have done some air shipments to ASEAN countries and some to India, and get great feedback from customers. And now we are excited about the arrival of our first ocean shipment to China.”

“According to data from Proarándanos, last season (21/22) the production of Peruvian blueberries grew by 30%, reaching 222 million kilos. The export of Peruvian blueberries to China expanded by 68%, demonstrating the attractiveness of the Chinese market. This season (22/23) the Peruvian production volume is projected to reach 286 million kilos, which represents an overall growth of 28%. And the volume of exports to China would reach 40 million kilos, which represents a growth of 50% year-on-year."

Sandra added: “Hortifrut has opted for Peruvian production. We now have around 1.900 productive hectares in Trujillo and another 400 hectares in Olmos, which allow us to grow at the pace required by the industry. For example, last season (21/22) we shipped 4,3 million kilos of blueberries to China and this season we expect 40% more. Our objective is to continue being one of the main exporters of Peru”.

“We strive to reduce transit time”
Gustavo Salinas is the Operations Director of Hortifrut. “Last season we worked hard to reduce transit time to China. In response to a difficult situation, we developed a strategy that distributed our shipments among the available services and obtained significant results. Industry transit time was 39 days on average to China, but we managed to get an average transit time of 35-37 days.”

“But the next season seems not to be so promising. We were planning to use 5 ships with Peruvian services, but all of them have experienced performance instabilities in recent months. Their transit times are as long as last year,” said Gustavo. “We recently heard good news, that the AN2 (Hapag Lloyd + ONE + MSC) service will be available once again. The transit time is not as short as the 27 days it used to be, but it will take around 31 days to Hong Kong port.”

According to Gustavo, in addition to the long transit time, the high shipping cost is also a challenge this year. "The cost of shipping has doubled compared to what we had in 2021." When asked who will absorb that cost, Gustavo said, “We can't do anything about the cost of shipping, but we try to ship the highest quality products and reduce any setbacks that come from shipping lines' performance instabilities.” .

"Our genetic program helps us find new varieties for the Chinese market"
“Thanks to the great work of our main strategic partner JWM and our SVA Fruits Shanghai office, we started exporting berries to China as soon as permission was obtained in 2011. Our goal does not stop there, we continue to ship varieties that meet the preferences of Chinese consumers. Being consistent is key to success in this market and we strive to provide the best possible consumer experience. Our goal is to cultivate repeat customers, because we cannot forget that China is a premium market looking for high standards, great firmness, size and high Brix levels. Our genetic program certainly helps us find new varieties that will compete with the best ones already on the market."

According to Sandra, firm blueberries with high Brix levels can fetch attractive prices in China, as these characteristics are recognized by local consumers. “Fruits with these characteristics can reach sales prices between $10,0 to $12,0 USD/kg, while for normal varieties the price is only $6,0 to $7,0 USD/kg. This gap makes China a very special and dynamic market, and highly sensitive to the quality levels that we reach as an industry, hence the importance of achieving the desired quality, improving the consumer experience and thus being able to increase those prices, something that Hortifrut has taken into account working for several seasons”.

Large price difference between quality classes
Max Leiva is the CEO of SVA Fruits Shanghai. He shared some thoughts on the Chinese market: “Peru is increasing its export volume to China in recognition of the importance of this market. The quantity and quality of export fruits increases year after year. On the channel side, many of our fruits go directly from the ship to distribution centers in Shanghai and Shenzhen, and then onto our customers' shelves. We are now trying to increase our market share in retail by offering sweeter varieties with a longer shelf life. We have invested in our Super Sweet product line as there is a high demand for these varieties.” Max said.

“We also see increased demand for premium fruit, especially from retailers. The market will pay for fruit that arrives in good condition, having undergone excellent post-harvest treatment. As for the price, we see a big difference between a good and middle class of fruit delivered, the price difference can reach 30-50 yuan [4,45-7,41 USD].

“We are looking for good producing regions in China”
“Our goal is to offer berries to the world throughout the year. For this reason, in addition to Peruvian crops, we are also investing in other regions such as Chile, Mexico and China, where the national blueberry is improving year after year in quality and volume. In China, we focus in particular on the Yunnan, Dandong and Qingdao regions and are still looking for other good production regions.

“With the COVID outbreak, people started to understand the importance of healthy habits, and the blueberry is a perfect example of a healthy fruit. Blueberries are packed with essential nutrients that can protect us during these difficult times, and being able to supply this amazing product is something we are proud of,” said Sandra.

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