Key September / October period for U.S. blueberries in China

In the past ten years, as living standards have improved, consumer awareness has increased, and domestic blueberry production has experienced exponential growth, blueberries have become a daily fruit in China with a high rate of repeat purchases. Those with a good appearance, firm texture, and high brix levels in particular have great appeal to Chinese consumers.

As the world's largest blueberry producer, the U.S. successfully gained access to the China market for its blueberries in May of this year. To support this new opportunity for bilateral trade, the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service recently released a report that briefly outlines the Chinese blueberry market and offers well-researched recommendations for US blueberry exporters.

To date, blueberries from the US, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay, Canada, Argentina, and Peru have received approval for export to China. According to the USDA report, 99% of the blueberries imported by China come from Peru and Chile due to the existence of free trade agreements and counter seasonal availability; In 2019, China imported 22.045 tons of blueberries, of which 11.919 tons originated in Peru and 10.049 tons originated in Chile. The peak period for blueberry imports from China generally occurs from January to February, which corresponds to the low season for domestic production and coincides with the Chinese Spring Festival holiday period, when there is always a strong demand for fresh fruit. in the market.

Due to similar harvest seasons, American blueberries primarily compete directly with blueberries grown in China.

More than 70% of blueberries grown in China are consumed fresh. Industry experts predict that China's blueberry harvest will exceed 2026 million tons in XNUMX, which will lead to the country surpassing the US as the world's leading producer. The main growing regions include Shandong, Guizhou and Liaoning provinces, with June and July as the peak harvest season.

In recent years, several global fruit giants, such as Driscoll's, Costa, Hortifruit, and SA Berry Fruit, have made considerable investments in China to grow blueberries and other types of berries. Research projects are also underway in China to develop new blueberry varieties with higher brix levels, firmer textures, and improved aroma.

In September and October, China's domestic blueberry supply gradually comes to an end, while the quality of the fruit also drops sharply. At this time, the quality of South American blueberries is not stable, while the export volume of Canadian blueberries is insufficient to meet the demand of the Chinese market. Consequently, the USDA report concluded that these two months represent an excellent opportunity for US blueberries to expand their market presence in China.

The report also recommended that American blueberry exporters interested in expanding into the Chinese market pay attention to berry size, firmness, brix level and packaging.

In China, fresh blueberries are generally classified into one of three grades, namely 12–14 millimeters, 14–16 millimeters, and 16 millimeters or more, and are almost universally sold in 125-gram packages. The report predicts that US blueberries with brix levels greater than 12 degrees and sizes greater than 16 millimeters will be the most attractive to Chinese consumers. Furthermore, blueberries, if not handled with caution during delivery, can lead to a very high rate of customer complaints; therefore, berries with a firmer texture are generally preferred by Chinese importers.

Source
producerreport.com

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