Ecuador’s very young blueberry industry, is doing well across European and Asian markets with a focus on being a niche and not volume player. According to María Esther Castro, who does international sales for Nobis Fruit Company in Ecuador: “At this moment we are doing small shipments to Europe, mainly the Netherlands, Spain and Italy and to Asia in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.”
Nobis Fruit Company is a division of Nobis Investment Holding, with their blueberry field located in the province of Tungurahua in the highlands of Ecuador at an altitude of 1.950 meters above the sea. The project consist of 50 hectares under roof. “We are producers of tropical, exotic and non-traditional fruits such as blueberry, organic Red Dragon fruit, yellow dragon fruit, baby banana, organic ginger and so on. We are selling our premium fruit under the brand BlueStar, we have two different presentations, cup for local market and clamshell for international markets.”
Prices in Asia and Europe getting closer
“We have been seen that price wise Asia is a top market for us, but considering what is happening in Peru Europe has been reaching same prices recently. The demand for our fruit has been increasing every month based on our sizes and especially our sweet flavour, actually we cannot cover all the demand that our fruit has generated,” explains María Esther Castro.
Nobis only grows two varieties of blueberries at the moment. “Currently we are growing Atlas as our main variety and a small portion of Bianca. In the future we will start a project to start growing other varieties.”
She says Ecuador is not trying to compete with Peru, who are struggling with lover volumes at the moment. “We are not aiming to cover a commercial gap or window, what we are looking for is to provide a very special blueberry with distinctive flavour and consistent sizes the whole year, that something our clients are also interested and that is our goal.”
Young Ecuador blueberry industry
Garces says the industry in Ecuador is very young, with projects that are not bigger than 60 hectares. “However, that is actually a good thing for the business because locally we have an undiscovered and unsatisfied market that we are trying to fulfill, and that’s our main focus at the moment. We want to continue expanding our plantations to other locations in Ecuador and with new varieties. We are bringing international investment from companies around the world that have seen Ecuador as a potential player in this industry and that see us as very important local partner. Our focus is to make Ecuador well know not as a blueberry volume exporter but as a quality player around the world.”