She expects exports to be up significantly this year, with rival markets increasing at a faster rate than the U.S.
“Fresh exports are expected to increase overall about 15%-20%. It’s unclear how much shipments to the U.S. will grow this year, due to continuing excellent demand in Asia and Europe. My guess is 5%-10%.”
Cindy Jewell, director of marketing for California Giant Inc., Watsonville, Calif., agrees that expanding markets for Chilean blueberries beyond North America is a good thing.
California Giant officials attended the Fruit Logistica conference in Berlin this year and was impressed with the strong demand for blueberries among Asian buyers, in particular.
“It just shows the opportunity for more growth,” she said. “It’s why we keep increasing production.”
There’s no question that Europe is an attractive destination for many shippers of Chilean blueberries, said Brian Bocock, vice president of product management in the Grand Junction, Mich., office of Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC.
But the U.S. market has certain advantages that Europe can’t match, Bocock said.
“Europe is a factor, but at the end of the day, Europe doesn’t have a lot of flexibility, moving up and down on volume,” he said.
Asia could be a bigger rival for Chilean blueberries in the coming years, but again, Bocock said U.S. importers shouldn’t be too worried.
“I expect Asia to grow, but if it takes some from the U.S., it will be very minimal.”