Italy: Is the golden age of blueberries over?

The price of blueberries from Chile had dropped by as much as 40% (compared to 2015) already at the end of 2016. This year, those from Spain saw a 34% drop. Italian producers are now starting to worry.

FreshPlaza talked to an operator worried about the uncontrolled appearance of soft fruit crops. This might constitute an advantage for nursery gardeners but damages market quotations.

"Demand is still growing, but the risk of overproducing must never be underestimated. We have been equipped for exports for some time, which requires good organisation. On the domestic market, however, I see a level of enthusiasm for these productions that I deem entirely unjustified and potentially fatal for those who start working in this segment without being prepared."

Blueberry production is in fact rather expensive. "Harvesting alone costs €1.80/kg. In addition, blueberries require acid soils, which are not easily found in Italy. This in turn means soil-less cultivation is required, meaning additional costs. One hectare costs around €60 thousand. Commercialisation is in the hands of a few medium-to-large entities and royalties must often be paid for the most promising cultivars."

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