They foresee an 8% drop in shipments of fresh blueberries this season

The Chilean Blueberry Committee, of the Association of Fruit Exporters (Asoex), together with the consulting firm iQonsulting, released the estimate of exports for the 2022-2023 Season, highlighting that shipments of fresh blueberries are expected in 98.228 tons, which represents a drop of 8% compared to the previous season.

Andrés Armstrong, executive director of the Blueberry Committee explained that “the Chilean blueberry industry has been incorporating technologies and adapting its offer to the current conditions of competition in international markets. One of the actions has been the renewal of its varieties, which has meant leaving some varieties for frozen export and also other industrial uses, while planting new varieties with better post-harvest."

The professional specified that last season, in which fresh blueberry exports suffered the impact of significant logistical problems, has accelerated the process of adjusting the national supply. For this reason, he commented that, although substantial improvements are expected in logistics services this season, the volume to be exported will decrease, prioritizing the condition of the fruit.

On the other hand, Isabel Quiroz, executive director of iQonsulting, added that frozen blueberry exports are expected to increase, reaching 60 thousand tons or more. "This represents an increase of more than 14% compared to the previous year, maintaining the growth trend and also the diversification of markets," she observed.

Quiroz highlighted that this season presents better conditions for the export of fresh blueberries, such as cooler temperatures that favor the quality of the fruit; There is also a greater availability of workers for harvesting, packing and logistics operations, factors that made last season especially difficult.

Mauro Magnasco, general manager of El Torreón Export, located in San Carlos, recalled that the previous season was one of the most difficult for the industry, in which "the elastic" of the tolerance of the United States to the heterogeneous quality was broken, which meant that many North American supermarkets rejected Chilean blueberries. This, in the context of the logistics crisis that delayed shipments, which favored the loss of product quality.

"All the people who have blueberries planted and who do not dare to export them again, the only alternative left is to sell them for pulp or frozen, and obviously it is not a business, because those two industries pay so little that hopefully they serve to dilute fixed costs; but obviously this year the supply for IQF and frozen is going to be much higher, and probably the price will fall and therefore less silver will be recovered”, he stated.

The professional explained that given the high risk involved in exporting and the high costs, he will prioritize the quality of the fruit, focusing on varieties that have a longer post-harvest life, that is, with greater probabilities of reaching their destination in good condition. "We are going to continue betting on exports, but only with the safest varieties," he concluded.

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