Maintaining price is challenge for Argentine blueberries

Ines Pelaez, manager of the Argentinian Blueberry Committee is expecting similar results this season to last, in terms of both volumes of export and prices. The stability may be good news, but the price is not. Last year was a bad year for pricing and saw some growers exiting the sector as a result.

"So far this year is going as we predicted," Ines says, "I think the volumes will be about the same, but the prices will not be any better. For one thing there was some late stock on the market from Oregon when we entered the marker, which has had an effect on the price."

Most of the fruit is destined to end up on the US market. Of around 16,000 tonnes, 61% will end up there, 18% in the UK, 12% in continental Europe and between 2 and 3% in Asia.

Asia could be the key to the future though. Ines says the country is looking to export more blueberries there, with the reopening of the Japanese market and the opening of the Chinese market. For the moment, however, she says the challenge is maintaining the value of the fruit.

"We need to set a better communication with retailers," she says. "The blueberries need to be promoted during the peak weeks of supply to sell the most and increase retailers revenues”.

Competition is also an issue, even without surplus stock in the US. Although Argentina enters the market alone in September, it is soon joined by Chile and there may be another competitor in the future.

"Chile is anticipating its harvest now," Ines says. "We expect Peru to join in the market at some point, but at the moment the industry is undeveloped there.

"Once Chile start shipping larger quantities in November, then the prices are largely dependent on their volumes."

For more information:
Ines Pelaez
Argentinian Blueberry Committee
Tel: +54 11 4371 4753

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