The first result of the recent trip of the Uruguayan Government to China has been the Chinese Government's announcement that it will authorise the entry of blueberries from Uruguay to the Asian giant, as confirmed by official sources.

Through an electronic communication, the General Directorate of Phytosanitary Inspection of the AQSIQ (the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China) reported that it has published the data about the plant authorised to export blueberries from Uruguay to China.

After this publication, it has become possible to carry out commercial operations between both countries, according to our sources. The authorised plant is Gamorel, Uruguay's largest producer and exporter of blueberries, based in the department of Salto.

Carlos Fraschini, president of the Union of Fruit Producers and Exporters of Uruguay (Upefruy), said last week that "we are trying to accelerate the procedures so that [China] allows us to start shipping before the end of the current harvest, so that we can send a sample and not lose a whole year."

However, sources in the sector said that it would now be difficult to make a fruit shipment to the Asian country, given that the harvest has almost ended and that it hasn't been an easy one for the producers, due to the combination of a "record production, falling prices and the rise in costs," stressed Fraschini.

Blueberry producers lost "about 1.5 million kilos of blueberries worth $ 12 million" in a record harvest at regional level which led to prices collapsing.

"Many producers decided to stop harvesting, because if they hadn't, they would have lost money, as production costs exceeded the price that is being paid for the fruit in the markets, and Uruguay exports 95% of the fruit it produces," explained industry sources.

Now, with the news of China's approval, the prospects for blueberry producers and exporters gains new momentum, although it will be necessary to wait until August or September next year for the first shipments of the fruit.

At present, Uruguay has 370 hectares devoted to the cultivation of blueberries, mostly in the country's coast, in Salto and PaysandĂș. There are about 20 farms supplying five exporting companies.