Peruvian blueberry export to US, profitable, but complex

The 7th International Blueberry Seminar organized by Blueberries Consulting in Lima, called 'Peru and the Blueberry Industry: Defining Strategies for Access to New Markets', brought together Chilean and Peruvian experts who addressed various areas of the blueberry industry, I.e. the agronomic management of the plant, knowledge of the markets, and greater commercial experience. About 500 people attended the event, including producers, exporters, professionals and the public interested.

Julia Gamarra, an agricultural industrial engineer that is an expert in food law, spoke about Market Strategies to Promote Blueberry Exports from Lima to the United States and said that the export of these berries to the US market was still complex for small exporters but that it was worth the effort because its profitability was very good.

She also said that although Peru can produce blueberries all year round, in the northern area of Chao, Peruvian production intensifies from August to November and reaches its peak from October to November. In addition, she said she considered that, to achieve a greater competitiveness, Peru must work in research and development as currently only 10% of the Peruvian companies that participate in this industry invests in R & D.

Federico Beltran, the general manager of Terra Business said that Peru was already the 5th biggest exporter of blueberries in the world and that it had the most marked growth among producers in the Southern Hemisphere. He also said that in the next 5 years Peru would be the main exporter of fresh blueberries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Peruvian blueberry
Peru's blueberry production continues to grow and this year the country is expected to export 40,000 tons, against the nearly 29,000 tons it exported in the previous season, Sergio Del Castillo, general manager of Pro Arándanos, stated in the Lima International Seminar.

Not even the El Niño Coastal phenomenon that occurred in the summer affected this industry that continues to grow as in previous years, stated Del Castillo. "There was only a decrease in planting speed but growth prospects were always maintained," he added.

Regarding the planted area, he said that the members of Pro Arandanos had a total of about 3,200 hectares. There are another 600 hectares outside of the organisation, he said. The most widely used variety is still the biloxi variety, although there are also plantations that are already testing other patented varieties.

Del Castillo said that Peru was proving to be a consistent supplier that supplies the offer it promises, which gives it a better international reputation than other competitors such as Chile or Mexico. "It's a very good competitive advantage, plus we have a very wide production window," he added.

He warned that the shortage of labor was already a problem for this industry and that it was something they expected would happen, as in other agricultural export products.

Faced with that, there is no choice but to adjust costs and make more competitive productions, achieving important productions, higher than those obtained in other parts of the world, using the best inputs and achieving a greater specialization of the workforce.

"That's what we are all focusing on, in making them more competitive, giving our associates a lot of information about the market and doing a very intense job regarding access to new places. Now we are very concentrated in the US, which is a very important market. However, we must consider that its natural supplier is Mexico, and that it is a strong competitor for us." As a result, he said, Peru points to China with greater interest.


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