Large Chilean blueberry crop expected - The Packer

Large Chilean blueberry crop expected

10/27/2010 04:56:32 PM
Andy Nelson

Substantially larger volumes of Chilean blueberries are expected to wind up in U.S. markets this year, importers said.

Volumes out of Chile shouldn’t be a problem this year, said Nolan Quinn, berry category director for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia.

“It looks to be a big crop,” Quinn said. “We’re going to have a lot more volume than last year.”

Production is expected to be up 30% for one of Oppenheimer’s growers, Quinn said, and since the bulk of the grower’s blueberries are U.S.-bound, he expects shipments to the U.S. also to be up about 30%.

The expected higher volumes are a combination of increased acreage and excellent growing weather this season, Quinn said.

The deal will likely begin early for Oppenheimer, Quinn said, with the first containers expected to arrive the first week of December, a week or two earlier than usual.

Volumes could be up a whopping 90% for Washington, D.C.-based Sun Belle Inc., said Janice Honigberg, the company’s president. Honigberg expects an industrywide volume increase of about 33%.

Sun Belle’s Chilean deal begins earlier and ends later than those of most importers. The company began receiving shipments this season in July, Honigberg said, and the deal won’t likely wind down until April.

Peak arrivals were expected from the second week of January through the first week of February.

Cool weather

Growing weather in Chile has been colder than normal for some, with temperatures as low as 39 in some regions, said Dave Bowe, owner of Coral Springs, Fla.-based Dave’s Specialty Imports Inc.

Shipments, however, are expected to be about on schedule. They will likely remain light through October, increase in November and increase even more in December, Bowe said.

Chilean shipments are expected to wind down for the company in mid-April, Bowe said. Volumes are expected to be up this season, he said.

“They should have much more volume than last year,” he said. “They just keep growing more.”

Unseasonably cool weather in late September and early October was pushing back the beginning of the deal, said Bob Ritchart, vice president of sales for Tampa, Fla.-based Sun Valley International.

Shipments from Chile’s northern growing region were underway in a very limited way the week of Oct. 11, Ritchart said. Volumes from the region wouldn’t likely hit, however, until mid- to late October.

All three blueberry growing regions of the country are running seven to 10 days behind, Ritchart said.

The deal was still likely to wind down on time, probably in mid-January, he said.

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