Peru is facing a difficult blueberry season as a result of El Niño. The climate pattern impacts production volumes and makes it difficult to project a production peak at this stage. “As of today, total blueberry volumes from Peru are approximately 40 percent down compared to the same quarter last year,” says Ezequiel Gimenez, Latin America Procurement director for North Bay Produce. While production volume is down, Gimenez is positive about the quality of the crop. “Production started at the beginning of June with very good quality product, especially our premium offerings SEKOYA Pop and SEKOYA Beauty.”
From Peru, North Bay Produce exports blueberries to all primary markets, including the US, Canada, the UK, Europe, and China. Just last week, China received its first container with SEKOYA Pop blueberries from Peru. “Quality is outstanding, which is reflected in the firmness, Jumbo size, as well as flavor,” commented Gimenez. “So far, the Chinese market has received about 50 percent less volume from Peru compared to last year, all caused by the weather.” According to market information source Freshcargo, the total blueberry volume shipped from Peru to China through Week 32 amounted to 3,994 tons, compared to 7,354 tons in 2022, a decrease of 46 percent.
Chinese consumer preferences
China is a key market for Peruvian blueberries as the fruit symbolizes a health-conscious and premium way of living. “For this reason, consumers are particularly interested in the nutritional composition and effectiveness of these berries,” commented Gimenez. In their purchasing decision, nutritional worth, eye-health benefits, and anti-aging properties are the main drivers. On the heels of health benefits is the consumer’s interest in home preparation methods and ideal food pairings. In urban centers and among affluent individuals there is a heightened focus on details such as the origin of the product, its presentation and accompanying photographs.
When selecting blueberries, the decision from Chinese consumers is driven by four main factors, including large size, good bloom, crunchiness, and flavor. “However, flavor and size have priority,” Gimenez said.
Per capita availability
In response to growing consumer interest for blueberries globally, production has increased significantly in recent years and is expected to continue going up. As a result, per capita availability of blueberries for individuals in the United States is anticipated to surpass 1.5 kg. annually by 2027. At the same time, the availability of blueberries for consumption in the European Union and China is projected to experience an increase of 100 percent and 200 percent respectively between 2022 and 2027 as shown in the figure from Rabobank below.