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Worldwide strawberry production up 13%

The international trade of strawberries, either fresh or processed, has grown in recent years. According to data provided by Trade Map, worldwide sales in 2013 reached 1,533,000 tonnes; 29% more than in 2006.. 

The motivation for Chile to invest in the strawberry market is given by the opportunities that the industry is providing. The habits of the world's population are changing in favour of healthier, quicker and easier food, such as snacks. 

At the same time, there are new emerging markets such as Asia where there is ample room to grow, as consumption is still low, but is going upward. European markets are beginning to register an increase in their consumption levels throughout the year. Added to this is that Chile has comparative advantages of climate and soil for the production of this berry, which additionally takes place during the Northern Hemisphere's counter-season.

All this suggests that there is room to grow in this market, although given the distance from Chile to all major markets, the frozen industry will remain the priority; hence the importance of the use of improved varieties and growing techniques and the need to have adequate capacity refrigerators that make it possible to reach a growing number of markets with an excellent quality product. 

Of Chile's exports, 53% corresponds to fresh strawberries, 38% to frozen strawberries and 9% to processed or preserved strawberries; thus, while fresh strawberries are the most marketed, the frozen are not far behind. The average annual growth rate of frozen strawberries in the past seven years is 4.4%, while fresh strawberries recorded an average annual rate of 3.6%. Meanwhile, the processed or preserved presents no major changes, with an average growth rate of 1.4%.

The global average price of frozen strawberry exports in 2013 reached USD 1.5 per kilo, while fresh strawberries registered almost double this price, reaching USD 2.82 per kilo. 

European countries recorded an average strawberry consumption of close to 1.6 kg per capita per year, according to the Economic Research Council (ERS). In the United States consumption is higher, reaching 3.6 kg per year in 2012. In emerging markets (Mexico, Brazil, China, South Korea and Japan), the average consumption stands at 2.6 grams . It is in these countries where the industry has the most room to grow. 

In global terms, the strawberry production has grown by 13% over the last five years, reaching 4,516,810 tonnes in 2012. The main producer is the United States with 1,366,850 tonnes. Of these, 80% were devoted to the fresh market. 

The Valley of Central California Coast is called by some the "world's berry capital" because of its production of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. The area produces the largest volume of berries in the world.

Mexico stands second, with 360,426 tonnes, closely followed by Turkey with 353,173 tonnes. Spain is ranked fourth with 289,900 tonnes, of which 75% is devoted to the fresh market. In fifth place we find Egypt, with 242,297 tonnes. 

The main exporting countries devote over 70% of their production to the fresh market, with the remainder allocated to processed fruit (mainly frozen). Strawberry exports totalled 1,533,483 tonnes in 2013, valued at USD 3,477 million dollars. In terms of volume, fresh strawberries represent 53% of all exported strawberries. Frozen strawberries follow with 38% of the total export volume; processed or preserved strawberries account for the remaining 9%.

Exports have grown by 18.6% in volume and 34.5% in value over the last five years, always with fresh strawberries in the lead. However, frozen strawberries show greater stability in terms of volume, always in an upward trend. The search for new varieties focuses on finding varieties with a longer post-harvest shelf life. The trading volume of processed or preserved strawberries presents no strong variations, and prices show a slight growth.

In Chile, strawberries are mainly produced in the Metropolitan and Maule regions. INE estimated that these regions account for almost 80% of the national acreage. The most popular varieties are the Camarosa and Chandler. 

New varieties and production technologies are making it possible to extend the availability of strawberries around the world. Trading volumes are fairly stable. Prices are rising, along with the costs. It is thus essential for Chile to improve its competitiveness in order to maintain or even achieve a better position as a worldwide strawberry exporter.

While Europe is able to supply its own market, it is interesting to consider new markets such as Russia and the Arab and Scandinavian countries. Technological research centers are constantly looking for new varieties and production techniques for strawberries devoted for both the fresh and processed market. Obtaining new varieties with a longer post-harvest shelf life and improving characteristics such as the fruit's colour and flavour are the main goals of researchers.

Source: FoodNews latam

Publication date: 9/1/2014


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