Chilean blueberries are becoming one of the most popular fruits worldwide. This is confirmed by data provided by the Blueberry Committee of Chilean Exporters Association (Asoex), which indicate that for the 2011-2012 season shipments of this fruit reached USD 400 million, more than doubling the USD 160 million recorded four years ago.
In volume, more than 70,000 tons of blueberries were exported in the last season, representing an increase of 133% compared to 2007-2008.
This is due to increased production in the country between 2005 and 2011. Production grew at an annual average of 35%, driven by a distinguished international selling price.
The executive manager of the Blueberry Committee, Andres Armstrong, says that blueberry boom began half way through the last decade when blueberry consumption was popularized in the world for its antioxidant properties. This increased selling price in the international market, which peaked at USD 20 FOB per kilo, and encouraged hundreds of national farmers to plant this fruit.
Although in recent years the price has gone down. In the fourth quarter a kilo of blueberries traded between USD 5.5 and USD 6.5 average FOB. The President of the Chilean Blueberry Committee and CEO of VITALBERRY, Felipe Juillerat, says the business continues to provide a comparatively better performance than other fruits.
"This rise in shipments has gone hand in hand with a very good return and producers who have been entering the industry, have seen the potential of investing in blueberries," says Juillerat.
Currently there are about 1,300 blueberry producers throughout the country, totaling approximately 13,000 of planted hectares. Ten years ago there were a thousand hectares.
Leader in export
According to a report by the Office of Agricultural Policy, (Odepa), Chile ranks as the largest exporter of blueberries in both volume and value. Blueberry shipments in 2011 accounted for 10.2% of total value of Chilean fresh fruit exports.
Furthermore, the document states that the domestic industry of fresh blueberries is reaching maturity and has positioned itself as the third largest generator of foreign resources for Chile within the fruit sector, catering to demanding markets.
Last season the U.S. and Canada led Chilean shipments of this fruit with almost 80%, followed by Europe (15%) and Asia (5%), says Armstrong.
He adds that virtually all domestic production of blueberries is exported.