Chilean blueberry growth continues at rapid pace

10/18/2010 12:30:37 PM
Tom Karst

ORLANDO, Fla. — Chilean blueberry growers expect to harvest more berries in the future, with a corresponding increase in shipments to North America.

Andres Armstrong, executive director of the Chilean Blueberry Committee, Santiago, presented an industry outlook Oct. 15 to blueberry importers attending the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2010.

Armstrong said the growth of the blueberry industry has been strong, with exports climbing from 9,457 metric tons in 2003-04 to 49,793 metric tons in 2009-10. Production of nearly 50,000 metric tons in 2009-10 was up 20% from 2008-09, but even bigger gains in exports loom ahead.

Exports are forecast to surge to 66,711 metric tons in 2010-11 — with 82% or 54,700 metric tons expected to be shipped to the U.S. Larger pack sizes are expected during peak harvest season, with promotable volume expected in December in mainly 1-pint clamshells.

Chilean blueberry exports will grow to 110,000 metric tons in 2014-15, Armstrong said. Only 39% of blueberry acreage in Chile is now in full production, he said. The U.S. accounts for about 82% of Chilean blueberry exports, Armstrong said, while Europe accounts for 14% and Asia markets took 3%.

Armstrong said new markets in China, India and Korea are targeted for opening in the coming season.



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