The president of the Association of Blueberry Producers of Tucuman (APRATUC), Francisco Estrada, highlighted the growth of the blueberry market, mainly of the organic biodynamic blueberries, which are increasingly often exported to the world.
Estrada is also the president of KingBerry SA, the only Argentine firm that sells this variety and the only international supplier of it so far.
"We started growing it in 2005 and we currently have more than 100 hectares of organic production. We even embarked in biodynamics and last year we obtained the definitive certificate, which has an economic and marketing benefit, as it allowed us to be part of a very specific market ", Estrada stated in the framework of the PROD Conference conducted by the International Agricultural Organization (IOE) earlier this month.
According to Estrada, blueberry production is a good business nowadays, but it has to be done in a smart way.
"Having a differentiated management will allow you to advance correctly and obtain good results. KingBerry has a concept of total integration; otherwise the business wouldn't work. We work with fair trade, organic, and biodynamic production to differentiate ourselves. In addition, we have our own packaging, cold handling, and export our product ourselves. We also export fresh blueberries. This year we distributed them in the United States and in 2019 we will open the company in Europe. We also made an investment in the plant to expand its capabilities, and we are already a player in the market to export frozen blueberries, which are not exported as fresh," he said.
Asked about internal consumption, the executive said that sector's chambers have been carrying out a strong campaign to increase consumption since 2017, and that they had already noticed progress. "There's much to do in Argentina in that regard. People are joining the actions we do to promote the fruit. There are more and more blueberry juices and sweets in the shelves. The latter is booming, it has a lot of output. The organic product is also growing, here and around the world," he said.
The opening up of China
Estrada said that he had made arrangements from APRATUC for the inspection that took place weeks ago, for the opening of the Chinese market.
He said that the opening up of the Chinese market was good news, but also said that China had high import tariffs, which reach 30%. "That is the main problem to solve. Peru and Chile have a 0% tariff and we must compete with them. In addition, we have to pay withholdings; in other words, we have to pay 12% to export the product and 30% to enter the Chinese market. That means that we are 42 points away from the product from Chile or Peru. Neither China nor our country are helping us," he stated. Despite this, he assured that the sector was optimistic and that they trust this issue would be solved at some point.