Blueberries become the main agro-export crop in Peru, surpassing grapes in value
Peru is on track to export a record 287,000 tons of blueberries worth $1,4 billion this season, making the product the country's most valuable agricultural export by value. From the start of the 2022/2023 campaign in June to mid-March, Peru exported 283.000 tons of fresh blueberries, 30% more than in the same period of the previous campaign (2021/2022). In terms of monetary value, blueberries have overtaken grapes as Peru's most important export crop. According to Fernando Cillóniz, president of Inform@cción, the Peruvian blueberry campaign window is getting wider (from June to March), registering its peak in the months of September and October. He added that for the next campaign (2023/2024), the country will send between 330.000 and 350.000 tons of fresh blueberries. He also projected that by the end of this year, blueberry areas in Peru would be close to 20.000 hectares.
“This good performance is the result of more than 10 years of investment by companies. We have a production that we hope will continue to grow. Therefore, a stable legal framework is needed that really promotes private activities.” says Lizbeth Pumasunco of Adex Consulting.
This season, incoming volumes have peaked at 7,8 thousand tons. Volumes continue to arrive as the season draws to a close. Luis Miguel Vegas, general manager of Proarándanos, He stated that the season had been challenging due to price pressure caused by an oversupply in Europe, as well as higher production and freight costs, as well as political and social unrest in the country. He stressed that while Peru's blueberry production continues to grow, the industry would need to increase its promotional efforts in major countries like the US and China to stop further price erosion.
More than 62 blueberry varieties are registered or under development in Peru, according to official data, with research focused on high productivity and uniform yield. In terms of fruit profiles, Peruvian growers are looking for berries that are vigorous, firm, extra large, sweet, less sour, crunchy, and can withstand extended chilling. The industry is also looking at fungus/pathogen-free packaging to increase the shelf life of blueberries, as logistical difficulties are causing longer transit times to destinations.
Prices this season ranged from $13,93 per pack in week 44 of 2022 to $25,33 per pack in week 10 of 2023.
According to the Annual Blueberry Report published by the USDA, Peruvian blueberries benefit from the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement (PTPA), which allows Peru to export blueberries to the United States without tariffs. This bilateral agreement, signed in 2009, has helped the agricultural sectors of both countries. A significant amount of US blueberry genetics (in vitro plants) have been exported to Peru, also at zero tariffs, where they are grown, harvested, and the fruit shipped back for consumption in the United States. Over fifty percent of Peruvian blueberries are consumed in the United States.
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All prices for US domestic produce represent the spot market at the point of shipment (ie, packinghouse/climate-controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the price data represents the spot market at the port of entry.
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