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Chile: According to estimates, more than 100,000 tons of blueberries will be exported in the 2014-2015 season

The new 2014-2015 blueberry export season has begun, and it seems the problems from the last campaign are over. The estimates made by IQonsulting for the Blueberry Committee indicate this season's blueberry production volume would amount to 104,530 tons, 40% more than in the last season. 

Andrew Armstrong, CEO of the Blueberry Committee, said the forecast was received positively by the industry. "We are excited to resume growth and to continue our efforts to develop markets. Last season we were affected by a lower production due to frost, particularly for the United States market," he told SimFRUIT. 

In this regard, Armstrong stated that last season was marked by a lower product yield, mainly because of the frosts in September 2013, which led to a 14% drop in shipments when compared to the previous season (2011-2012) and a 26% reduction when compared to the Committee's initial estimates. "Our forecast for the coming season is 40% higher than what was exported last season, but only 20% higher than what was exported in the 2012-2013 season, according to the rate of growth in recent years," he said. 

Chile exported by air 107 tons of blueberries by week 40 (September 30 - October 6), 106% more than what was estimated for the 2014-2015 season. The main destination of the fruit is Asia, which represents 56% of total shipments to date. Meanwhile the United States and Europe have received about 27 and 13 tons respectively. 

Regarding the maximum export weeks, the representative of the Committee said: "We estimate that as of week 51 we should have promotable volumes in the target markets. In addition to promotions in retail outlets, which are a key factor in facilitating the movement of larger volumes, we will have larger packaging, the size of a pint or more, as our preferred packaging."

The professional said they would hold various promotional campaigns in this new season at different fruit markets, as has been the custom since the Blueberry Committee was created. Programs have been defined for the United States, Canada and Asia, which will be held in conjunction with input from PROCHILE. 

"Our promotions are focused on positioning the Chilean blueberries as a fruit of quality with a reliable informed supply. In addition to enhancing its unique features, given its properties and health benefits, we will promote its exquisite taste, versatility and ease of use in various preparations. All of which has helped increase the world's demand for this fruit," he said. 

Regarding the vine moth, Armstrong recalled that the Lobesia botrana has a quarantine impact on some markets, but that its presence levels in blueberries, where it is an occasional host, have no impact on the fruit's quality or the orchards' productivity. 

He also stressed that they were currently working hard to control and eradicate the Lobesia botrana in the country through a joint effort between the Government, represented by the Agriculture and Livestock Service, SAG, trade associations and committees. 

"The expected volume growth will allow us to continue working in Asia and Europe, and we hope to pick up the pace of growth in the United States. Shipments to the United States normalized last season, once we were authorized to make the fumigation requirement on arrival, and we saw no impact on the receivers or customers in that market. This season we will have the experience of having implemented the requirements, although with a greater volume of fruit which will require us maintaining quality control."

Better information 
While the estimate is auspicious, there is always the possibility that weather variations can modify the forecast. Therefore, starting this week, the Blueberry Committee will begin publishing its harvest and exports report on a weekly basis, to accompany the production's evolution and correct estimates if there are any major weather events, besides the historical factors which have already been considered in the forecast. 

"We have made several improvements to our Crop Report this year so that it is easier to read and to transmit, more clearly and accurately, the progress of the harvest, the export shipments by market, and the expected volume for the following weeks, " said the executive director. 


Source: SimFRUIT
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