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US Highbush Blueberry Council responds

Opening of Chinese and Philippine markets for US blueberries has enormous potential

The North American Blueberry Council expressed appreciation for progress made in ongoing U.S. trade negotiations with China in phase 1 of the trade agreement disclosed earlier this year. Among the new tenets of the agreement is expanded market access for fresh U.S. highbush blueberries. Previously, China only permitted imports of dried and frozen U.S. highbush blueberries. Additionally, the Philippines will formally open its market to fresh U.S. highbush blueberries, making the U.S. the only country with official access to the Philippine market for fresh blueberries.

China Market Access
The potential the Chinese market holds for the U.S. highbush blueberry industry is enormous, but more work remains to be done, including addressing the 75% tariff imposed on blueberries exported from the U.S. 

The Chinese market represents a significant opportunity for the U.S. highbush blueberry industry, as an increasing number of Chinese consumers prefer imported fruits due to their superior taste, nutrition and appearance. Consumers also are demonstrating clear interest in blueberries specifically. From 2014 to 2018, the volume of per capita fresh blueberry consumption in China increased by more than 400%.

“USHBC is in a position to help U.S. growers sell more blueberries in China, which represents significant growth potential for the industry,” said David Arena, chair of the USHBC Export Committee and president of Frank Donio Inc. based in New Jersey. “Opening the Chinese market for fresh blueberries will help grow demand, ultimately supporting USHBC’s strategic goal of doubling exports by 2025, with a focus on high-opportunity markets in North and Southeast Asia.” 

Key updates to the phase 1 trade agreement relevant to blueberries include:

  • Fresh blueberries must be commercially produced from the states of California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington.
  • Blueberries must come from packing houses registered and approved by USDA, and the registered packing houses must have a system to ensure all fruit can be traced back to the supplying orchards. 
  • Each packing house must retain a list of registered supplying orchards that can be made available at the request of the USDA or GACC, the agency in China that corresponds with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
  • APHIS will supply the list of approved packing houses to GACC annually.

Philippines Market Access
The USDA reports that annual U.S. sales to the Philippines have averaged $150,000 over the last five years, but trade experts project that sales could reach $500,000 this season, and as much as $1 million annually in the future.

Licensed U.S. highbush blueberry importers will need to follow the Philippine Department of Agriculture’s usual regulations for fresh fruit importation:

  • Importers must secure a Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance from the DA’s Bureau of Plant Industry.
  • Products must not load for export before their issuance.
  • All products must be shipped within 20 days following their issuance and must arrive in the Philippines within 60 days from the must ship-out date.

For more information:
North American Blueberry Council 

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