Peru to achieve $70 million dollars in blueberry exports this year

The CEO of Sierra Exportadora, Alfonso Velasquez Tuesta, estimated that this year's Peruvian blueberry exports would amount to $70 million dollars and that Peru would be closing this year with 2,800 hectares of blueberries.

"Our country went from zero exports in 2009 to occupying the tenth position in the World ranking of blueberry exports in 2014 with $30 million dollars worth of exports," said Velasquez Tuesta.

Tuesta made this projection based on three indicators: the 30 percent increase in blueberry hectares, which went from 1,940 hectares last year to 2500 hectares in July 2015; the minimum performance of adult and young blueberry plants, which ranges from eight to ten tons per hectare and three to four tons per hectare, respectively; and the fruit's average price of $14 per kilogram.

To increase blueberry exports each year, Peru must expand the plantations of this crop. To this end, the President of Sierra Exportadora especially invited young farmers to unite, as this crop can be developed via associations that have between 25 and 30 hectares, which can then make the great leap to export blueberries.

"There is an immense ceiling for small producers, all they have to do is join in," emphasized the official.

He said the biggest importer of blueberries continued to be the US with imports worth 600 million dollars, followed by the UK, which imported $197 million in 2014, then Canada and the Netherlands.

Regarding the Asian market, Velasquez Tuesta said that China had become one of the potential markets for blueberries, as the country's demand had grown exponentially in the past five years with imports that went from $68,000 in 2010 to $41 million dollars in 2014.

"Peruvian producers should aim for this market, especially in the months of September and October when Peru has a large shopping window. The US and Canada finish their production in August; while Chile, the largest exporter of blueberries in the world, with 20,000 hectares, just starts production in November," he said.

This is one reason why more Peruvian blueberries are entering the US market than last year, he said. "We're talking about 400 tons of Peruvian blueberries that just entered the United States, and at a high price, $14 per kilogram," he stated.

The expectation is that blueberry crops yield between 10,000 and 15,000 kilos per hectare; however, taking into account that the investment per hectare is between $40,000 to $45,000 dollars, if producers have a minimum yield of 5,000 kg/ha, and prices are at $10 per kilogram, they would have yearly profits of $ 50,000. "With these revenues, farmers are already covering the cost of installation per hectare," said Velasquez Tuesta.


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