Opportunities and trends in the blueberry market

The consumption of blueberries in the world is growing as well as its production. The search for new markets and continue working in those in which the berry is already consolidated were some of the edges treated in the "First International Conference of Blueberries" organized for producers of the exporter SB Berries.

Janice Honiberg, president of SunBelle Inc. in the USA He talked about the North American cranberry market, its trends and challenges. He stressed that the good news for the sector comes from per capita consumption, which has increased enormously in recent years reaching 1.294 grams in 2013, compared to the 584 grams ago 10 years ago (+ 222%).

Within this growth, fresh cranberry consumption leads preferences (692 grams per capita in 2013). Honiberg detailed that the consumption of domestic blueberries in the USA. and Canada has doubled to 449 grams since 10 years ago, while on the side of the imported product it has done so in an 620% to 243 grams in the same time frame.

According to a study by the Highbush Blueberry Council, the probability that a consumer acquires blueberries in the next 12 months is high, where the most important attributes at the time of purchase are: freshness, absence of fungus, firmness and color.

"The price is also important", Highlighted Honiberg, however it is not so much in relation to quality and freshness. "The consumer understands that firmness is an indicator of freshness and generally looks for crisp and firm blueberries", He indicated to those present.

Another trend within the market is that consumers are increasingly aware of the health benefits of the fruit.

But within this scenario there are opportunities and challenges for the blueberries of South America. The president of SunBelle Inc. in the USA He commented that the consumption of the fruit in the North American market is much higher from March to September, especially from April to August, which is the domestic time of the United States. and Canada.

Now, what to do to increase consumption at the time of import and how to flatten the curve of purchases and preferences? Honiberg pointed out that quality and freshness are key, to which it adds that supermarket buyers are increasingly aware and concerned about the quality of the fruit, especially at the end of January, February and March in the market.

In the particular case of the Chilean cranberry, Honiberg gave the attendees to the event some suggestions to improve the quality and perception of it. Among them: eliminate varieties that do not have a good flavor - "change to varieties that the consumer will love to eat", He said-; switch to varieties with longer shelf life; avoid maritime shipments with fruit that has no arrival condition; avoid air shipments with questionable quality; concentrate efforts on good practices of harvest and post-harvest so that the fruit reaches its destination with the best possible quality; work with all types of transport (maritime and air) in order to avoid delays and receive the best fruit; and, finally, not to keep fruit in origin with the hope of the best price at the cost of better quality and freshness.

"Quality, freshness and flavor are essential to flatter the curve of purchases and observe the higher production that comes, "he said. "I suggest focusing on the consumer to deliver the best possible blueberries. Quality all year is the answer. The consumer needs to know that every time he buys blueberries he will have a good experience"He added.

The potential giant of China

USA It has been and will continue to be a natural market for the Chilean blueberry, but the development of new markets is generating new opportunities for the fruit.

"In recent years the new markets have been growing. South Korea is emerging as a new market and Latin America is timidly appearing. There is so much to do"Said Juan Carlos Dominguez, corporate commercial manager SB Berries, during his presentation.

"As an industry we have concentrated in the US, which is our natural market where consumption continues to grow, but the truth is that there are other potential high-consumption markets where you have to make a hit [sic], because you never know when economic macro variables can shake the market"He added.

In the case of China, Dominguez stressed that the potential of the market is infinite, given that there are countless markets in the country in which the industry has not yet focused. "We are only concentrating on the three main cities, which are less than 10% of China's population"He said.

The company's corporate business manager indicated that the large country-city migration in China has resulted in cities needing more products to feed people. Thus, the self-supply went to supermarket purchases and the Chinese are looking for food outside their borders where, seen from the safety factor, "they see the issue of importing products very positively"He said.

Although China offers new marketing channels for fruit, such as e-commerce (or e-commerce) where product quality is guaranteed, Dominguez warned that the reality of the traditional distribution process in the Chinese market means that the industry must work to arrive with the best product.

"Chinese is demanding, wants quality. In Chinese culture there is no market for the bad product", He stressed.

For Dominguez it is key to have a direct presence in China, to be in the market receiving the fruit. A second key is the control of quality, from the field through the packing, logistics, good storage conditions and rapid distribution "in a way to move the fruit in a timely manner", he pointed.

"The potential of China is huge, there are unexplored cities, you have to be in destination, worry, take care of the quality in origin ... Key is the model of exporting. We need to be on top, informed of what is happening at destination"He said.

"China will be a relevant actor yes or yes, therefore it is necessary to be prepared (...) It is necessary to arrive with the same efficiency that we arrived in the USA. and to Europe", He said.

Peru: complementarity for the offer

For some time now, there has been a lot of noise regarding Peru's potential in the production of blueberries. Miguel Bentin, producer and president of the Blueberry Producers Association of Peru shared with the audience what is happening in his country and how it can be coupled with the existing industry.

Bentin indicated that, contrary to what is believed, labor in Peru is not cheap. "The cost of labor has increased approximately 100% in recent years. It is no longer a factor of positive competitiveness (...) In addition, we have inexperienced labor"He said.

"There is a concern about the availability of labor because of the intensive nature of the work for the cranberry. It must be borne in mind that in many areas where blueberry is produced, asparagus is also produced"He added.

Although Peru has the potential to import technology, logistics and some ways of doing the work of Chile and North America - mature markets in the cultivation of cranberry- "The know-how is so ad hoc that it has to be developed locally. There is extensive knowledge developed in the last time but some issues have to be developed"Bentin said.

According to the president of the Association of Blueberry Producers of Peru, in his country there are already productions on 15 tons in the third year "and for now the production takes place in flat and very long curves (...) Productions from July to May, with a major concentration in the spring".

In Peru, most of the production is with the Biloxi variety, however trials are being made with private and patented varieties, with Emerald showing a lot of potential.

Among the challenges for cultivation is that it is one of the most expensive to develop within the Peruvian basket. To this the climate is added, since although it is mentioned that this is a wonder for all plants in Peru, it would also be for pests.

Peru still faces the challenge of accessing new markets that have great potential - as is the case of China - but, like the other producing countries, sees great opportunities in the demand for fruit.

The representative of the Peruvian sector believes that an opportunity for the region is the complementarity that can occur between the markets of the region.

"We can concentrate on the spring windows to give a higher level of supply to a longer window. The offer that is already mature can be complemented with the offer of Peru"He said.

Technical aspects

Along with the talks focused on the markets, the Congress also featured technical presentations, where attendees were able to internalize in genetics, irrigation and nutrition, and pests in blueberries. Subjects related to the handling of post harvest and packing, as well as mycorrhizae in roots, were also discussed by leading national and international exhibitors.


Source: Fruit Portal 

Previous article

next article


Produce blueberries in a pot or in a bag?
The benefits of having access to data that enable your organization...
Achieving the maximum potential of the new varieties of blueberries: Mace...