Diego Castagnasso, Azul Sereno, Uruguay
"We distinguished ourselves by not exporting to the United States"
“We normally start our exports from mid-September. The production at the beginning of the season is used for the internal market or export to neighbouring countries. As soon as we have the bigger volumes available, we start exporting to the international market. Last season started early because of a mild winter. This resulted to an increase in volumes sold to the domestic market. The blueberry season in Uruguay ends approximately in the month of January, although it depends on the variety and location of the farms”, explains Diego Castagnasso from Azul Sereno in Uruguay.
He continues that normally the domestic market only takes a very small percentage of their total sales, as the international export is the engine of their business. “The main export destination of Uruguay is North America which takes around 70% of all production. The rest is exported to Europe, for example England, Holland and Germany. It should be noted that often Holland redistributes it again to other countries such as Belgium, Poland and Spain. Only a small percentage is exported from Uruguay to the Middle-East.”
“While this applies to almost all blueberry exporters in Uruguay, we have distinguished ourselves by not exporting to the United States for 10 years. For years, we exported the biggest volumes to England, followed by Europe as a continent. In 2015, about 95% of all our fruit was exported to England. Then it all changed, meaning that last year the bigger volumes were exported to Europe and less to England”, says Diego.
According to Diego the reason because of this change is mainly the market itself and the role of the supermarkets. “There was a constant necessity to lower our prices. Unfortunately, our production costs are quite high, so we can´t offer our fruit at these low prices. In addition, we noticed that South-Africa offered additional volume at low prices because of their lower costs. By selling their fruit at cheaper prices, it’s possible for them to get a bigger portion of the market.”
“For us it’s better to search for markets that are willing to pay the right price for our quality fruit. This is one of the reasons that we will try to start exporting to the United States again. The price level can be higher than in Europe and it absorbs more volume.”
The strategy of Azul Sereno is to keep moving and developing, like changing and renewing varieties. “Having a packing facility in Breda in the Netherlands is also part of this strategy. We work with a few important clients and other volume is available for smaller clients or to be sold on the SPOT market. The idea of having our own packing facility is to ship the berries in bulk and repack only what the client requires at that moment. An advantage is that we are more efficient in the logistics, which we can use for the repacking process.
Another advantage that Diego highlights is being more confident of the quality in this new form of selling their fruit. “We check the fruit at arrival and during the packing process. The fruit is being packed only a few hours away from the destination. Therefore, we can assure the quality of our fruits. As well, because the fruit is in Europe already, it’s easier for us to react on the market situation.”
Diego concludes: “The production always varies, which is normal in our industry. There is a programme and there is reality, so you need to be prepared and you need a strategy for that. This packing facility is a new service, which helps me to move in different directions. For now I prefer to grow the best fruit possible on my farms and then search for a market to it sell to. There is always a market for good quality fruit.”
For more information:
Tel. Argentina: +5491150431793
Tel. Uruguay: +59894850534
Publication date: 2/27/2018
Author: Kelly den Herder
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