Asia becoming major player in Chilean blueberry deal - The Packer

Asia becoming major player in Chilean blueberry deal

10/24/2011 09:56:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

Chilean shipments to Europe this year likely will be similar to last year, with some adjustments possible because of economic factors, said Nolan Quinn, berry category director for the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Oppenheimer Group.

“They are offering the same prices but are looking for high quality,” Quinn said. “Since the euro has weakened against the U.S. dollar, we may see more volume targeted to the U.S. versus Europe than in 2010-11.”

Now China is part of the mix, with that country this year having granted phytosanitary approval for blueberry shipments from Chile after three years of talks, according to Chile’s Ministry of Agriculture.

“China is opening up, and global demand is good for the grower and will keep the price strong,” said Cindy Jewell, marketing director at Watsonville, Calif.-based California Giant Inc.

China’s entry into the Chilean berry deal enhances an increasingly vibrant Asian presence, said Brian Bocock, vice president of product management with Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC.

“Over the next five years, Asia is going to have a huge impact on blueberries,” he said. “There’s a lot of demand over there. South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong — all of them bring a lot of opportunities.”

European and Asian demand are growing, but Chile likely will have ample supplies for everyone, said Tom Richardson, general manager of Giumarra Cos., Wenatchee, Wash., speaking for Giumarra VBM LLC, Littleton, Colo.

“It would seem that, at least for the next several years, increasing production will allow a fully supplied North America, as well as an ability to reach the emerging markets of the world,” he said.

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