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Heavy Chilean arrivals of blueberries into US…for now

Blueberry arrivals into the U.S. right now are heavy out of Chile.

“There’s a temporary abundance of blueberries because Southern Chile came in strong at the beginning of last week and should go strong for another two weeks,” says Jerald Downs of Hollister, Ca.-based Berry People LLC. He adds that this is on top of a ramp up in production out of Central Mexico and Baja California, though the picture for California has changed, due to a recent cold snap. “California will start late because the early varieties likely suffered some freeze damage,” he adds.

Despite the influx, the pipeline remains relatively clean. “Chilean blueberry exporters and their receivers handled the early season well, with a mix of market diversification and air shipments and enjoyed the momentum on well-established retail business which kept a clean pipeline,” says Downs. “The current situation is competitive with all that’s arriving, but fruit is moving.”

Prices coming off?
Prices have dropped slightly recently though in reaction to the supply: Downs estimates conventional blueberries have dropped in price maybe 10-15 per cent while organic have come down about 15-20 per cent.

Looking ahead, as the season transitions to North American supplies, Downs anticipates arrivals from Chile to drop off around March 10th or so. “Mexico will be ramping with strong volume and quality as Chile bows out” he says, adding that supplies overall will be lighter after March 10th. “Pricing will show some material increases after that point. Conventional for example, will go from the low teens to the high 20s by the first part of April. And the organic should go from the low 20s to the low 40s.”

California’s role
That said, supplies from California will be fairly late because the early part of California crop was damaged. “The early stuff, slotted for April 20th to the end of April, was likely damaged,” Downs says. “But there’ll be strong volume coming off by the second or third week of May.

He also adds that while there’s talk of production making a strong recovery out of the East Coast’s Georgia and South Carolina for this season, that pressure won’t hit until later. “There will be some pressure out of there but most of that won’t hit until after May 1st,” says Downs.

For more information:
Jerald Downs
Berry People LLC
Tel: +1- 831 245 3500

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