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Mexico’s early season berry exports up 6% due to US Thanksgiving sales

Mexico’s berry export industries had a very good start to their campaigns as the US Thanksgiving holiday boosted sales with an increase of between 5%-6% seen for blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, and blackberry exports. They are also looking forward to higher Christmas sales in the US, Europe and Far East markets says Ing. José Luis Bustamante, president of Mexico’s National Association of Berry Exporters (Aneberries).

José Luis Bustamante, president of Mexico’s National Association of Berry Exporters (Aneberries)

“Our Mexican season started in August 2022 and will end in July 2023. Right now, at the start of the export season for Thanksgiving, which is a very important day for Mexican produce exported into the US, especially berries we did well. We have seen 4 500 metric tons of Raspberry’s exported through Thanksgiving week, an increase compared to previous years, which is 5%-6% more than previous seasons for all berries. The strawberry export season just started. We export a little in October, but during November and December and then again from January to March we have larger volumes and that forms our export window. The volumes are lower in the US market due to climate conditions in California and Florida. Therefore sales price rise and things look good for Mexican berries. We had a promising start, we have enough fruit in Mexico to fill our orders. For strawberry’s 98% was shipped to our main US and Canada markets,” states Bustamante.

For blueberries Bustamante says they are moving away from the autumn window in the US, because of the abundant supply from Peru at that time. “We are moving production down in the year, we aim to start in December, while we are looking to have our peak season in March and April. Our aim is to supply the market 52 weeks of the year. Blueberry has a growing demand. Right now we see that market still growing, but maybe not as fast as previously. We also send a big component of our blueberry exports to the Far East and then a little bit to the Middle East. We complement the US production, we can ship during winter months. The Far East is a very good market that is very appealing for Mexican producers, especially since blueberries are the only berry capable to go for the long journey over there. We do see that blueberries have a big opportunity in the Far East.

He says they are aiming to grow raspberries all year round in Mexico. The country has become the second biggest exporter of raspberries worldwide behind Russia. “We are in a very interesting situation because it is very labour intensive, especially in harvesting. There is advancement in technology that allows us to grow in Mexico almost year round. There’s also the increased opportunity to ship year round. There is big potential for us to grow with the good demand in the US. Our aim is to not only sell the volume but to do it in a way that the market can take it. We also export our raspberries and blackberries to Europe, but North America remain the biggest market."”

Bustamante says strawberry prices in the domestic market of Mexico can sometimes reach higher prices than exports. “During the months of November and December the export market is higher. Christmas season is very good for our berries. There’s an increase in demand and prices, this helps to sustain the increasing costs. For us it’s a good time. Strawberries especially sell well during Christmas and Valentine’s Day, not forgetting Mother’s Day and Easter, which is close to our window,” he says.

Expensive input costs
Bustamante says the Mexican berry industries also feel the effects of higher inputs costs that eat into the profitability of producers. “We also have more expensive input costs. Inflation is pushing our growers. As a speciality crop we have to buy plastic for the macro tunnels (hoops), that has seen increased prices. The prices of steel together with plastic is going higher, putting pressure on new production fields. Fortunately, in Mexico we can produce nitrogen fertilisers while we have to import a lot of fertilisers from abroad. The shipping and logistics limits the exports to further away countries. That is why it is a good thing we are nearby the US.”

Seasonal labour
“In terms of labour, we also foresee it’s getting more important to have migrant workers within Mexico. The majority of workers come from the communities in which berries are grown. As production grows we would need more workers. We need to bring people in from Southern Mexico who move from central Mexico and after they finish they go in May each year to pick table grapes in Sonora, then they also pick asparagus near the border,” Bustamante concludes.

For more information:
José Luis Bustamante
Tel: + 52 (33) 3813 3643

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