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Adolfo Storni, treasurer of Argentina's Blueberry Committee

Analysis of Argentina's blueberry producing sector

Adolfo Storni, the treasurer of the Argentina's Blueberry Committee, member of the Association of Blueberry Producers of Argentina's Mesopotamia (Apama), and president of the Extraberries SA company, stated that he expects the blueberry season to develop normally and that they will be able to compete with a demanding market, such as Peru.

This year we plan to export 12 thousand tons of fruit, a volume that is quite lower than the one exported last year and in previous years, Storni said.

At present, there are more than 30 producing companies nucleated in Apama. Most of them are in Entre Rios and Corrientes, and nearly 15 of them have the possibility of exporting.

According to Storni, the competition with Peru's production is one of the biggest challenges faced by the sector. In fact, according to estimates, Peru will export in three weeks the same amount as the Argentine sector throughout the whole season. "Peru will export more than 100 thousand tons and Argentina will only export some 12 thousand tons," Storni said.

"Last year's season was marked by retentions and reduced reimbursements, as well as by weather issues; the rains in the northwest and the hail in Concordia reduced our production and quality. The weather in 2019 has been weird because we've had a few cold days so far. At this stage of the year, we would normally have 100 cold hours and we are far below. This implies a modification in the harvest season and a change in the concentration that we could have," he added.

"Argentina's Blueberry Committee has demanded the Government take three very specific measures," Storni continued. "A non-taxable minimum for harvest and packing contractors; the elimination of withholdings; and a return to the previous refund aliquots. These measures would allow us to invest in blueberry varieties that have a longer shelf life, which can travel well in containers."

The effect of Peru's competition in the blueberry market was evidenced in the increase in stock, which led to lower prices in the second half of October, he said.

"China represents an interesting market. However, Argentina's fruit must pay a 15% import tariff there, which puts it at a disadvantage, as Peru and Chile have a 0% tariff. In addition, to enter China you have to pay an 8% export duty," Storni stated.

Apama is confident that the Mercosur-EU agreement and the reduction of export tariffs to Europe will be effective in the 2021/22 campaign.



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