Chilean Blueberries: Challenges posed by competitors
It has been a very good season for Chilean blueberries. Despite production not growing as initially estimated because of unfavorable weather this year, Chile almost achieved the same volumes it had last season and exported more than 90,000 tons of fresh produce.
“The main varieties that we export are our own, they were developed by our genetic programs with the aim of providing the best quality and taste to the world. Chile exports 70% of its production to the United States, approximately 20% to Europe, and 10% to Asia. Within the Asian market, 70% of exports are sent to China. Exports to this country have been increasing for the past 4 years, since they opened their market to Chile’s blueberry,” said Felipe Juillerat, spokesman for the Chilean Hortifrut Company.
Chile produces blueberries between October and March, making it the only Latin American country to have a significant export crop in this period. Peru and Argentina are Chile’s main competitors, as the harvests of these countries’ begin some months before that of Chile. In addition, Mexico and Morocco can be considered indirect competition because their harvests begin in mid-February, when the Chilean production is nearing completion.
Currently, Chilean organic blueberries exports are growing and the United States and Europe are their main market. “20% of our blueberries are organic and demand comes mainly from North America. Europe also has a considerable demand for organic blueberries, but it’s not as big as the one from the United States. We believe this is because the US market is more mature. Many times the European consumer is not willing to pay extra for organic blueberries,” stated Juillerat.
“This is a new scenario for us because competitors have emerged both in the early and late season. It’s important that Chile understands that the industry is evolving. These changes bring opportunities and challenges to improve. It requires consolidating what’s efficient and changing to better varieties. In the particular case of Hortifrut, our main differential is genetical. We select varieties that taste good, are firm, and have a long post harvest,” the representative of Hortifrut concluded.
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