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Growing demand from England and Asia

Uruguay: Blueberry producers seeking new markets

The blueberry harvest started with better export prospects due to growing demand from markets such as England and the Asian countries, where the fruit's consumption is on the rise.

"Demand is now steady. Regarding prices, while they are better than last season's, they do not reflect what will happen at the end of the harvest, as prices will gradually lower," explained Horacio Ozer Ami, president of the Fruit Producers and Exporters Union (Upefruy). In the previous harvest the average price was US$ 5.60 per kilo in Montevideo, when in recent years it reached US$ 8.

The Union leader said that both demand and prices are on the rise in the Asian market. Besides, their quality standards are also higher in terms of size and flavour. "Uruguay is perfectly able to meet those standards, with more attention paid to packing and placement, as we have the necessary quality."

The Asian markets currently open are Malaysia and Singapore, although greater hopes are placed on entering Korea and Japan. "We have already asked the state authorities to make the necessary negotiations to enter those markets. If it happened, it would significantly increase our export volumes," said Upefruy's president. 

While blueberry consumption is not very high in either of these nations (Korea and Japan), it is growing, and it is likely that by the time Uruguay breaks into their markets, which would take at least two years, consumption will already be on higher levels. The price paid in those countries is 20% higher than in the markets Uruguay currently has access to.

During the current campaign, Asia will receive around 8% of the production, compared to last year's 5%. Europe and the United States, for their part, will absorb the rest, affirmed Ozer Ami. Last year 59% of the fruit was shipped to Europe and 37% to the United States, totalling US$ 14.8 million.

Regarding production issues, the Union leader explained that "the volumes harvested will be similar to those of the previous harvest (2,707 tonnes)."

Source: El País Digital

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