An increase in Peruvian blueberry exports is expected despite political instability
According to data presented by the Central Reserve Bank of Peru (BCRP), the export volumes of Peruvian blueberries during the last months of 2022 reached 210 MT, exceeding the figures for 2021 by 36% in October. Blueberry shipments reported through October 2022 were valued at $1100 billion, representing a 20% year-over-year increase. During the first week of 2023, 4.708 tons of Peruvian blueberries were exported, 28% less than in the same period of the previous year. Despite this, Peru has exported 301.389 tons so far, 27% more than the previous season. More than 62 blueberry varieties are registered or under development in Peru, 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.
“We have already shipped around 90% of the volume for this season. We are at the end of our season and we expect it to end during the last week of March." says Luis Miguel Vegas, manager of the Association of Blueberry Producers of Peru (Proarándanos). “The ongoing Russian war in the Ukraine and the ripple effects in the markets coupled with high prices etc. will make it as challenging in 2023 as it was last year. Although we will grow in volume, it will be a challenging year due to the international context. We have been facing several challenges such as the increase in freight costs, as well as the increase in the costs of agro-inputs, negatively impacting companies ”, he affirmed.
As a direct result of the current strikes in the country, producers and exporters are facing financial difficulties. There is less labor available on a daily basis to get to the farm. When harvests are frequently late, there is less volume available for export and products already harvested face the challenge of reaching the port or airport in time for export. Exporters continue to experience obstructions on access roads and delays in reaching the port to pick up the vessels. There are regions that are more affected than others, such as southern Peru compared to the north, but road access is still restricted. In addition, labor and packaging materials cannot reach the farm on time.
One of the main objectives for 2023 is to be able to significantly boost shipments to certain places where the Peruvian blueberry does not have as much participation, Israel being one of the main countries. The Asian market has also come under scrutiny, as efforts are underway to open up nations like South Korea and Indonesia. With a 55% market share so far this season, the United States has been the main market for this product, followed by the Netherlands with a 25% share.
“The peak of exports was 21.333 tons in week 38, ending the year 2022 with 33% more than the peak of the previous year. With this positive variation, the dispatched volume closed above 277 thousand tons. Although most weeks experienced a positive variation, there were weeks where the volume registered was below the previous one, as a result of the crisis and political instability that resulted in losses for the agribusiness. Losses after the end of the riots last year were estimated to be $250 million for the main export crops of blueberries, table grapes, avocados and mangoes." says Luis.
The social discontent that hit the country at the end of 2022 forced businessmen to delay the harvest, which resulted in an accumulation of fruits that must be collected and shipped in the coming weeks. In 2023, exports are expected to increase by approximately 25% to over 365.000 tons. In addition to the higher volumes harvested in the first three months of the year, the increase is also the result of the entry into production of new acreage in the second half of the year. According to FreshFruit Peru, the higher volume would not be matched by a corresponding increase in value as a result of falling international prices. It anticipates total revenue of $1.7 billion in 2023, an increase of 21% over the prior year.
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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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