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Demand drives booming blueberry production in China

The blueberry industry has experienced remarkable growth in China, expanding its presence from 10 to 27 administrative regions and increasing the cultivation area from 10 to 77,000 hectares. This expansion has resulted in an average production of 525,000 tons of blueberries, with provinces such as Guizhou, Liaoning, Shandong, Sichuan, and Yunnan leading the cultivation effort. This boom is largely due to an annual 40% increase in demand for blueberries in the last five years, a significantly higher growth rate compared to other fruits.

Despite this growth in demand, China's per capita consumption of blueberries, which stands at 0.26 kilograms, is still much lower than that of Western countries such as the United States, where per capita consumption reached 2.63 kilograms in 2022. According to estimates, the annual demand for blueberries in China is close to 1,000,000 tons, which indicates there's a wide margin for growth, especially in third and fourth-tier cities.

China's blueberry industry is still experiencing an "era of great profits". For example, in Yunnan Province, the value of production in the second year of cultivation can reach 150,000 yuan per hectare, with net incomes of 70,000-80,000 yuan after deducting production costs. This lucrative potential has attracted numerous companies to the sector, including Shenzhen Noposion Crop Science Co. Ltd., which has expanded its cultivation area to 1,333 hectares.

A major challenge for the sector is rising labor costs, which have tripled since 2013. According to producers, labor costs in China are lower than in Western countries, but the expansion of planting areas and the short harvest period pose difficulties in finding qualified workers. Manual harvesting is essential to preserve the quality of blueberries destined for the fresh market.

Another challenge is the competition from blueberry varieties. Most of the varieties grown commercially in China are of foreign origin, which poses challenges for local varieties in terms of quality and diversity. As more foreign varieties enter the Chinese market, there is a risk that local varieties will lose popularity among consumers, despite their lower prices.

In short, the blueberry industry in China faces a promising future with significant challenges. A continuous consumer demand, the potential for market expansion, and the challenges related to labor costs and varietal competition paint a complex but potentially lucrative picture for China's blueberry producers and exporters.


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