Piet Meerkerk, Special Fruit:

“Shortage of good blueberries to persist in the coming week”

The Chilean blueberry season is currently entering its final stage. According to purchasing manager Piet Meerkerk of Special Fruit, it has been a complicated season. “Quality varied greatly particularly during the mid-season until week eight. The weather conditions in Chile have caused problems two seasons in a row now. This appears to be becoming a permanent problem. We’re currently getting blueberries from the final production region, and these are better, qualitatively. However, we’re not seeing that reflected in prices yet, because these are still fairly low. Particularly considering the limited volumes from Morocco and Spain, because the harvest can’t really get going there either, due to the bad weather.”

The sales prices are currently around 10-11 euro per box for Chilean product and 16-20 euro for a box of Spanish and Moroccan berries,depending on variety and shipping agent. “We’re now having a dramatic shortage of high-quality blueberries, and considering the damages in Morocco and Spain, that will last for the next two weeks,” Piet expects. “Besides, I’m wondering if the consequences of an abundance of water could damage the plants even more, resulting in an accumulation of harvest.”

“In Chile, a larger harvest was initially expected. Later, people predicted an enormous decline, but in the end, volumes were in line with last year. Until week eight, Chile shipped 104,500 tonnes of blueberries in total. Of that, about 66,000 tonnes went to the US, 25,000 tonnes to Europe and 13,000 tonnes to the Middle East. That proportion is practically the same as last year,” Piet says. “People are talking about the potential China is supposed to have as a buyer of blueberries, but we’re not seeing that increase in the statistics. I personally don’t expect China to develop considerably as a producer, but that they’ll primarily consume the berries themselves.”

One trend on the blueberry market is that consumption has been increasing in the south in recent years, according to the purchasing manager. “The merger between Albert Heijn and Delhaize boosted the blueberry sales in Belgium enormously, and we’re seeing an increasing trend, which had been happening in Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia for a while, now also shifting more towards the south. The consumption of blueberries is also increasing significantly in Eastern Europe. It’s remarkable that the sales of organic blueberries increases in proportion to the market, and therefore increases even faster than conventional sales.”

For more information:
Piet Meerkerk
Special Fruit
T +32 3 317 12 38

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