Positive season for Argentinian blueberries
"It’s a constant process of changing production to newer varieties"
“The Argentinian blueberry season has been quite positive. In general, it was much better than the season of 2016. During that year the Peruvian supply and Argentinian supply overlapped, so the market collapsed. Even though there are markets that prefer our fruit because of the taste and sweetness (higher brix level). However, other markets prefer the fruit of Peru, explains Carlos Stabile from Extraberries Argentina.
The main export destination for Extraberries is North America, followed by Europe and the UK. “We are always willing to expand our export. When the season was about to finish we received the market access for exporting into China, so we will start selling to this new destination from next season on.”
He explains that in general the blueberry market is growing. “There are some markets that are matured, because eating blueberries are part of their tradition, such as in the United States and Canada. However, there are still markets in which the consumption is growing such as Europe, and also Argentina itself. Blueberries are a rather new fruit for the Argentinean market and this year consumption increased significantly. This is very positive for the producers.”
The overall blueberry production of the group comes from 3 different companies in 3 different locations: Extraberries in Salta, North West Argentina with 170 hectares, Extraberries de Concordia in Entre Ríos, North East Argentina with 85 hectares and finally Gamorel in Salto, Uruguay with 170 hectares. With varieties such as Snowchaser, Emerald, Star and also the newer varieties like Farthing and Kestrel. “It’s a constant process of changing production to newer varieties, as there will always be improved varieties with, for example a longer shelf life or improved quality.”
“This group of companies is the only one in Argentina and Uruguay that work with a Unitec sorting machine, the Blueberry Vision. We acquired 3 machines, one for each farm. The machine sorts on output, quality and softness. It has been an investment, however we can be more confident of the fruit that we export. Keeping in mind that we are increasing the export by sea, being sure about the quality of the fruit is a huge benefit.”
Cerezas Argentinas and Frutos de los Lagos are part of the same group of companies, which respectively 170 ha and 130 ha of cherry production. “The production of Frutas de los Lagos is organically certified, which is very unique as there is almost no offer in organic cherries. The demand for organic cherries is growing.”
The production of our cherries is on the perfect location to have the right growing conditions, such as a dry and cool climate, he says. “The season runs from November till January and has been a good season. As for blueberries, the export markets are the United States, Europe and some export to Asia. A good thing is that we are in the process of opening the Chinese market, we hope this will happen in 2019.”
He concludes: “Each year we experience a strong competition from Chile, which affects the pricing. However, I believe there is sufficient demand for cherries for both countries to allocate our fruit.”
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Publication date: 2/26/2018
Author: Kelly den Herder
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