2013/14 season

Chile: Blueberry export season ended with 15% drop in exports

Exports in the 2013-2014 Chilean blueberry export season, which amounted to 74,033 tons, decreased by 15% when compared to the previous season.

According to the final report of the 2013-2014 season prepared by the Fruit Exporters Association of Chile AG (ASOEX), the amount is 27% lower than what was estimated before the start of the season.

Ronald Bown, president of ASOEX, said through a statement that the decline was due to four factors, most notably the frost in September (which affected the crop) and the restrictions imposed by U.S. on the blueberries from the regions VI, VII and VIII, given the presence of Lobesia botrana.

"A third factor were the additional meteorological phenomena, such as the rainfall and the high temperatures in summer. The final fourth factor was the port strike in San Antonio," Bown said.

The leader explained that, "The frost damaged nearly 14% of what was estimated, i.e. a decrease of 13,900 tons in the production, which affected shipments between weeks 45 and 51, mainly. Some 8,300 tons, which were not exported after Christmas because of the restrictions due to the Lobesia botrana, were destined, to a greater extent, to the frozen industry."

The rainfalls and the high temperatures in summer affected some 4,126 tons and the port strike affected 996 tons, "which were also earmarked for the manufacturing of frozen products," Bown said.

ASOEX reported that the main market of the Chilean Blueberry is still North America (USA. & Canada), which absorbed 50,660 tons, 25% less than what was shipped in the 2012/2013 season.

The Chilean agency stressed that the North American market was the only market to report a reduction in the volume of Chilean blueberries due to the restrictions imposed because of the Lobesia botrana. The decline was also reflected the market share, which went down from 78% to 69%, the lowest turnout in the last 10 years.

Europe was the second target market for Chilean blueberry, with an increase of 13.4% to a total of 16,485 tons.

Total exports to Europe increased from 17% (2012-2013) to 23% (2013-2014); the result of the effort that has been made throughout several seasons to find new markets.

Meanwhile, the Asian market grew by 41% when compared to last season, with a total of 6,417 tons, as a result of the significant growth and penetration of this fruit in the markets of China and South Korea.

Andrew Armstrong, executive manager of the Chilean Blueberry Committee, said in the statement that, although the estimated production for the season was significantly reduced because of a series of events, "the fruit's quality was higher, which significantly decreased complaints and allowed us to continue developing alternative markets that are in a growth phase."

"The main challenges that this industry faces to continue growing are keeping the superior quality standards and reducing the impact of the restrictions imposed by the presence of Lobesia botrana," he said.

Source: Fresh Fruit Portal

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