Uruguay currently has about 486 acres of blueberries and, given this year's weather conditions, the country would produce about 2,500 tons, a higher volume than in the previous season. 

"We exported about 1,700 tons last year, a volume that was lower than what had been initially estimated because of bad weather, there was a lot of rain during harvest and some companies lacked the manpower to properly carry out the harvest," said Martha Betancur of the Union of Producers and Exporters of Fruit and Horticultural products of Uruguay (Upefruy). 

"This year's blueberry season began on August 14 with small volumes. The season peaks in October and starts to slow down in November and there is something in December. When Chile's production enters the market we are practically no longer in it," she added. 

Betancur stated that they used very little fruit for the local market, as they were thinking about the international markets. 

"We did send fruit the industry one year, and we will be doing the same this year with another modality. In previous years we also froze the fruit in Uruguay and we are now going to send it abroad at low temperatures so that it is frozen upon arrival, but this is being negotiated; everything is being exported," she said. 

According to Betancur, last year, 40% of the production was destined for the United States and almost all of the remaining 60% went to Europe. 

"There were small amounts sent to Hong Kong and Canada but the basic is 40-60% [US-EU] which changed in recent years. The United States used to import 60% but it gradually decreased while Europe's demand increased," she said. 

"So far this year -from August 14 to October 7th- 50% of the production has been sent to the United States because all air shipments go there, but we've also exported to the European Union, the Netherlands, Germany, UK, Ireland and Belgium," she added. 

Asked about the possibility of opening new markets, Betancur said they were working on some, but that they were currently focusing on China. 

"There is a list of markets that we're trying to access, for example, we are working hard to enter into mainland China through Hong Kong. In fact, a Chinese mission is coming this month [October] to negotiate the health protocol," she said. 

Source: Fresh Fruit Portal