Delayed harvest strengthens Chilean blueberry market

A later start to the Chilean blueberry season has led to a stronger market than last year. Cooler weather delayed the harvest as growers waited for the fruit to ripen, but now volume is on the way, with sea containers expected to arrive around New Year.

"The harvest was supposed to start in the first week of November, but actually began towards the end of November," said Hugo Diaz, of Andean Fruit LLC. "Because of the cooler weather, the berries were not getting the color or sugars so growers waited for an extra few weeks. But now volume is steady and quality is looking great."

Transport by air more difficult
Suppliers have noted that arranging air transport for blueberries from Chile has been a challenge this year. They are pointing at a general lack of available aircraft in the region, combined with reports that some transport companies are in financial difficulty.

"We've had a lot of trouble arranging flights this year," Diaz said. "Airlines have taken out some of the aircraft in the region, therefore there is a lack of available cargo aircraft. It's possible that, because there were not many air shipments from Chile to the United States last year, they felt the spaces were not going to be needed. Air transport options are limited this year."

Sea containers to begin arriving soon
Sea containers of blueberries should begin to arrive toward the end of the year, or early next year. Demand has been high, and the market is strong, due to the delayed harvest as well as the Holiday season.

"The market is better than last year and it should remain strong as we get close to the Christmas holiday period," Diaz noted. "The containers should start to arrive toward the end of December, beginning of January. Our growing regions are focused on South Central Chile and we expect our arrivals to continue through to the second week of March, with supply from the south expected to continue for a further month.

More customers asking for pint sizes
Diaz said that he has seen more retail customers asking for the pint containers of blueberries by air this year. He observed that due to the delay in the season, there are not many of the pint size containers around as there typically is.

"More of our customers have been asking for air shipments of pint containers," he said. "This is an unusual item for air freight at this time of the season. The reason is that, because the harvest was delayed, so were the sea containers. Normally there would have been sea arrivals already and therefore, we are bringing in more pint containers by air."

For more information:
Hugo Diaz
Andean Fruit LLC
Tel: +1 (305) 420-5091

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