Peru, an industry of sustained growth
There has certainly been an increase in global demand for blueberries since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic these last two years. The phenomenon has spread to the local markets of exporting countries, such as Mexico, Argentina, Morocco, South Africa, Chile and of course Peru. The reasons are linked to the fruit's proven benefits for human health, popularizing its consumption and removing it from niche consumption. This brings as a consequence a new drive among producers to plant more surface, in addition to the entry of new players into the industry.
Making a general forecast of the world production of blueberries, based on the crossing of information from different specialists and observers of the blueberry industry, the trends indicate that the global volume of production by 2024 will reach a figure very close to 2.200 million kilos in shipments to the different markets of the planet, including fresh and processed.
This figure indicates that the growth projection of the blueberry industry remains uneventful on the rise and that it is the irrefutable data from world consumption that support this trend, because it should be noted that the demand for blueberries not only increases in consumption per capita, but rather expands to new consumers on the world map.
The global industry is experiencing a virtuous movement of new consumers joining and old ones consolidating, no one abandons the demand.
In this framework, Peru is the country with the highest growth projections and presence in the world market, contributing more than 25% of the regional total corresponding to the American continent as a whole, and reaching a presence close to 15% of the global total of the production of blueberries Although in the case of Peru these figures may even be exceeded, due to the great push for varietal change that has occurred in its industry, introducing better genetics and a constant growth of its area planted with cultivars in new projects.
The Peruvian campaign runs from May to April, although generally 98% of the shipments have been dispatched by January, so only very marginal figures remain as of this date.
Until the end of January, the Peruvian industry has already exported 215.356 tons, for a value of USD 1.277 million.
If we compare these figures with what was achieved in the previous season, the results are 30% higher in terms of the volume of fruit shipments to world markets and 26% higher also in the values achieved.
According to official data, it can be projected that the 2021 / 2022 campaign will close with just over 220.000 tons of fresh blueberries exported, and with returns close to USD 1.300 million, which absolutely consolidates the sustained growth trend that the industry has maintained. Peru for the last five or six consecutive years.
These are the final results of the latest campaigns, according to official figures from the National Agricultural Health Service of Peru (Senasa):
If we add that an approximate volume of 2021 tons is projected for the current 2022/220.000 season, we can see that the Peruvian industry's blueberry exports went from less than 13 thousand tons in 2016 to more than 200 thousand in 2022, that is, In just over 6 years, volumes have increased up to almost 17 times, becoming the fruit with the fastest export growth.
Main destinations of the Peruvian blueberry
The main destinations have been the market of the United States and the Netherlands, which accounted for 78% of Peruvian shipments, however, it was shipments to destinations in China and Spain that achieved the best prices, reaching values higher than USD 6.25 per kilo.
Breaking it down, Peru exports to about 31 international markets, and the United States has historically been the main destination for its total exports of blueberries in its various presentations (53.4% of the total), followed by various countries in Europe (34.2%) and Asia (12.2%). %).
A rapid varietal change
The important growth and penetration of the Peruvian blueberry in the main international markets is undeniable, although this forces them to face new demands from consumers in terms of size, flavor or condition of the fruit, which is why they had to enter a stage very early varietal replacement.
Daniel Bustamante, president of Proarándanos, an entity that brings together producers and exporters of Peruvian blueberries, comments that "this need has led to a high penetration of genetic programs in Peru, with varieties most desired by the markets, and as in Peru they are productive results in 10 or 12 months, varietal change is much more viable, because all kinds of varieties in the genetics industry are being tested very quickly, with results that allow them to be discarded very quickly, since there is such a short time to develop tests and mistake. We can correct very quickly”, he assures and adds:
“The new genetics is essential to be able to serve these markets, those that have already been conquered thanks to the fact that we entered a time of counter-season, of shortages. We are currently testing many varieties from new genetic houses, I think we have reached 56 different varieties”, he relates.
Just a couple of years ago, the Biloxi variety covered about 60% of the area planted in Peru. Currently, the Ventura variety covers 32% of the 16.500 hectares planted with blueberries that exist in Peru and Biloxi reaches only 30%.
The remaining 38% is distributed among the remaining 54 varieties, which come from the houses that offer protected genetic material to the Peruvian industry, such as the Peruvian Inka`s Berries, the Australian MBO, or those of Driscoll's, Fall Creek, Hortifrut and OZblu, among others.
The future of the blueberry industry in Peru is open to sustained growth. Logically, it is also full of questions and dynamism. The important and fundamental thing is that global consumption grows constantly and there are concrete probabilities that this growth will continue to increase projected over time, giving guarantees of sustainability to the industry in its permanent development.
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