The Peruvian blueberry season is set to start in August and will run through January. The weather so far this season has been good, with the maximum and minimum temperatures falling in the right range and the season looks to be starting on time.
Blueberries grown in the Peruvian highlands
Grupo Athos grows their blueberries in the Peruvian highlands at the foot of the snow mountains located in Caraz, Ancash region, which has an elevation of 2,400 meters above sea level. Robin Anaya, CEO of Grupo Athos, says: “In the highlands, there is a much larger difference between the maximum and minimum temperatures we get. During the day, it can get up to about 28 degrees Celsius, while at night it can cool down to around 8 degrees. This temperature contract helps develop the sugar content of the blueberries, as well as their firmness.”
Working hard to expand
The Peruvian government has been putting a lot of effort into helping to expand the country’s blueberry industry by developing new markets. “That is paying off right now,” says Anaya. Grupo Athos has also heavily investing in their blueberries in the past two years, and this year they will close the year with a total planted area of almost 500 hectares. Anaya shares: “All of our blueberries are in high density orchards and are grown in pots with a state-of-the-art technology that includes macro-tunnels that cover 100% of our plantation.”
This year, Grupo Athos plans to exports close to 5 million kilograms of blueberries around the world. “Most of these volumes are coming from orchards that we planted in 2018. The Athos brand has a solid reputation in the market, as we also provide quality pomegranates, asparagus, figs, and barhi dates. Now we want to do the same by offering the only blueberries from Peru’s snow mountains,” Anaya explains.
Strong demand with room for growth
The company exports throughout the world, with their biggest markets being Europe, China and the United States. In Europe and China, there is a lot of room for expansion in the blueberry demand. Anaya says: “The per capita consumption of blueberries in Europe and China is still behind that of the US, but it is developing very fast. This makes us believe that the positive trend in demand for the next years will continue.”
Another reason for the strong demand for blueberries is the health benefits. “Consumers understand that blueberries’ properties benefit out immune system,” Anaya says. “We expect that because consumers know this, the demand will keep growing, especially because the the pandemic. We hope that the markets will normalize when Peru’s shipments arrive in their destination ports in September, especially because we’re bringing in great proportions.”
While Grupo Athos has met some challenges due to the pandemic, overall, they have persevered and continued their production. “The most difficult part of it is keeping the agricultural operations running. The crops need to be harvested and the fruit needs to be packed and shipped fast; yet our people in the fields and the packing houses are the most important pillar of the entire operation and it is our obligation to protect them,” Anaya says.
He continues: “This first phase of the pandemic has demanded us heavy challenges, however we have a wonderful team that, with creativity, organization, and perseverance helped us overcome these obstacles. We will keep this same attitude to overcome any other challenge we may face in the near future. We are eternally grateful to our collaborators.”
“I want to thank our clients and suppliers, who are also in this daily fight to overcome the pandemic. I want to motivate them to persevere as will we overcome this crisis, and in the end, we will end up being a better society: stronger, and more united,” Anaya concludes.