Huge increase in blueberry volumes from Peru
Rob Cullum from Pacific Produce, said this was mainly down to new plantings coming into commercial volumes. "There has been a 40% increase so far and this just by sea. The company also airfreighted more than normal this season due to Poland dropping out of the market early. Over 400,000 boxes went by air which was a massive increase on the previous year's, as much of this volume would normally have been shipped by sea."
These figures represent exports until the beginning of November, the season will run for another 3 and half months.
"Prices in Europe have been good due to the short market," explains Rob. "In the US the Peruvian blueberries are the preferred choice. The US is a giant market with a much higher consumption per capita as blueberries are very well known to consumers, almost half of the export from Peru goes to the US market."
But it has not all been plain sailing according Rob, "The EU market place was very good due to Poland ending early but we work mainly on fixed price contracts and don't free trade big volumes, secondly there were the issues with the Dollar/Pound and now with the Dollar/ Euro."
Ultimately it is the currencies which are making it tough, but producers in Argentina and Chile are dealing with the same situation. South Africa deal in the Rand, but this has also had its problems.
"You must never write-off South Africa as competition," said Rob. "They are a huge fruit producing country and are coming up with some great new varieties, but they airfrieght everything, this is one the advantages which we do have over them. We have better freight and more reliable, fast vessels with no delays. I would like to think that the scale in which we produce will also bring us efficiencies and although they are very good at what they do, they can't match Peru on volumes."
Peru now has the protocol to enter the Chinese market directly and this totally changes everything, "It is a huge market and the blueberry is already well known there. We don't have to introduce an unknown product. Peru also has varieties with big berry size which is what they want in China."
La Calera are just to about to start harvesting their mangoes, but according to Rob there are already Peruvian mangoes on the way to Europe. "The season is early, and there are problems with drought. Several reservoirs in Piura have been withdrawn from use for agriculture and are to be only used for human consumption. Also in Peru most mango growers are small-holder farmers so this will have more influence on them; larger companies like La Calera have their own reservoirs."
The dry conditions will cause fruit drop and small calibres. Peru is difficult to predict for mango volumes because of the small growers, but you can get a good idea from looking at the bigger orchards and the general weather conditions, but you don't really know till the season kicks off.
"Up until a few weeks ago people thought it was going to be a big year, but I don't think it will be as big because of the water shortages. The early season won't be a problem as the US is looking for the Peruvian fruit as Ecuador started early so it should be finished before Peru comes fully online."
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