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Chilean Blueberry Annual Voluntary

Acreage went from around 7,000 ha in MY 2010/11 to over 18,000 ha in MY 2021/22

Blueberry area planted went from around 7,000 hectares (ha) in marketing year (MY) 2010/11 to over 18,000 ha in MY 2021/22. The United States is the top market for Chilean fresh and frozen blueberries, receiving more than half of the Chilean export volume. In MY 2021/22, fresh blueberry exports totaled 106,148 metric tons (MT), a 9.0 percent decrease from MY 2020/21, due to lower production. In MY 2021/22, frozen blueberry exports totaled 53,983 MT a 12.4 percent increase over MY 2020/21. The Biobio and the Ñuble regions have access to the U.S. market using a systems approach, which allows these two regions to export fresh organic blueberries to the United States since they do not require fumigation.

The bulk of blueberry production in Chile starts in November and lasts until March the following year. Blueberry production requires a long number of chill hours, which much of Chile has during the cool winter months. Blueberry bushes begin to produce two years after being planted. The blueberry is  more resilient and has better post-harvest life than other berries, such as raspberries and blackberries, making it attractive for exporters.

Blueberry area planted went from around 7,000 hectares in MY 2010/11 to over 18,000 ha in MY 2021/22. Blueberry production and exports became a profitable option for many fruit producers located in the central-south part of the country, in regions such Maule or Ñuble. These regions historically produced apples. Higher domestic production and competition from other countries, such  as Peru, made profits tighter and limited increases in area planted during the past three marketing years. Other factors that squeezed margins were an increase in transport costs, the U.S. requirement to fumigate exported berries with methyl bromide, and the increase in labor cost due to the pandemic.

Post estimates MY 2021/22 blueberry production at around 125,000 MT based on available trade data. While year-over-year area planted was reasonably stable, production decreased due to drought and generally unfavorable weather conditions. Post anticipates a return to more normal production levels in MY 2022/23.

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