Argentina: Tucuman blueberries now flying straight to Miami

Blueberries from the Tucuman region of Argentina are now flying directly to the US - Miami - instead of first having to be transported to Buenos Aires. Around 45 plane loads have been shipped so far. The change in logistics allows the blueberries a longer shelf life and gives the US consumer the opportunity to purchase a fresher product.

Blueberries are a big thing for the region, which last year produced around 3900 tons of the fruit (350 million FOB). The region is Argentina's second largest producer of blueberries and the highest in terms of export.

53% of the region's blueberries end up in the US, where they enjoy a unique market window. The season usually starts mid-end September, just when the US production ends, ensuring that there is no competition with domestic produce.

This year, however, things did not go quite to plan, as Jose Carlos Bertolotti of Citromax, pointed out. Jose was amongst other people from Tucuman's fresh produce industry who went to the recent PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim, California. All of whom travelled to the event as part of a mission organised by IDEP (Instituto de Desarrollo Productivo de Tucumán/Institute for the Productive Development of Tucumán).

"The weather was not perfect as there was a lack of rain during August and September and we need the water for the fruit to colour," he said.

Also, the usual market window was not in alignment with the fruit's entry to the US, as there was a surplus of domestic produce there, forcing prices a little lower than usual.

However, there may have been a silver lining to the cloud as Jose pointed out. "The prices were a little lower on entry, but they were at least stable. Last year we entered the market and prices dropped quickly.

The fresh season will continue throughout the next month, after which the remaining blueberries will be sold as frozen. This is due to the arrival of Chile in the marketplace and the consequent drop in prices caused by surplus availability.

For more information:
Virginia Avila
Instituto de Desarrollo Productivo de Tucumán
Tel: +54 381 4975050 int.34

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