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   Chilean Blueberry Committee Forecasts Similar Fresh Blueberry Export Volumes To Previous Season 
by The Chilean Blueberry Committee
Posted: Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 9:08AM EDT

SANTIAGO, CHILE — The Chilean Blueberry Committee has announced that fresh blueberry export volumes for the 2017-18 season will fall by 1.6% compared with the previous season, slightly exceeding 100,000 tonnes to an estimated shipping export total of 101,700 tonnes. However, in a report produced by iQonsulting together with the Blueberry Committee, the forecast for the season also anticipates a 3.9% increase in blueberry production volumes compared with the 2016-17 season to a projected 150,400 tonnes.

Andrés Armstrong, Executive Director of the Chilean Blueberry Committee, said that in spite of the forecast drop in export volumes, the committee expected to have a better season than the last one. “The previous season was very much affected by the earlier harvest, which led to us taking a lot of fruit to markets at a time when it was not expected. Although the forecast for 2017-18 is for similar exports to last season, the campaign is taking place within the normal harvesting period.”

Armstrong added that the Blueberry Committee “works hard to ensure our producers and exporters obtain the best fruit with a quality that distinguishes us from our competitors by employing new technologies that support this goal.”

Isabel Quiroz, Executive Director of iQonsulting, the consultancy that prepared the report for the committee, explained that the slight fall in expected blueberry exports was due to differences in the percentage of fruit exported as fresh and frozen. 

“This season, stocks of frozen blueberries in the US are 26% lower than last season, which is likely to lead to a renewal in Chilean frozen blueberry export levels; something that we did not see last season due to the high stock levels in that market,” she said.

According to the report, frozen blueberry exports are expected to reach 40,000 tonnes during the 2017-18 season.

Weekly Crop Report: new developments

One of the new developments that the Blueberry Committee will have for this season in it’s Weekly Crop Report on fresh blueberry exports is the monitoring of organic blueberry 
shipments; a product which has always been important for Chile and for which there is a need to improve the availability of information.

Even though organic has always been included in export figures, these did not distinguish between fresh and organic. Currently, Chile has 1,517 hectares of organic blueberry 
production, not including those hectares which are in the process of being converted. This is equivalent to 9.6% of the total blueberry production area and 12.3% of exports – between fresh and frozen.

Last season, Chile exported 8,551 tonnes of fresh organic blueberries and 5,431 tonnes of frozen organic blueberries, doubling the total over the last five years, from 6% to 12.3%. As a first step, organic exports will be monitored every week for the 2017-18 season. This will enable a better understanding of the dynamic of product volumes and exports on a weekly basis.

Quiroz explained that this was “a response to increasing international demand for organic products,” for which organic blueberries are an important product for Chilean growers. “For this reason, it is important to monitor organic data independent of conventional,” she said. “For next season, we will try to publish organic estimates in the same way as conventional, with the objective of providing better information to companies.”

Regional leaders

According to the Blueberry Committee forecast, the leading region in blueberry exports will continue to be Maule, which will export 31,521 tonnes during the 2017-18 season, 9.2% more than the previous campaign’s 28,606 tonnes and a greater increase than had been expected for the region.

In terms of volumes, the region of Biobío follows with 27,153 tonnes forecast for the season, 8.5% less than the previous campaign when it exported 29,474 tonnes, which was principally due to better distribution of frozen.

The same took place in Araucanía region, third nationwide in terms of blueberry export volumes, which is expected to record 14,508 tonnes, 8.4% lower than the season before when it shipped 15,722 tonnes of the fruit.

In terms of peak season, the Blueberry Committee’s report indicates this will take place from week 49. It estimates that over 10,000 tonnes will be exported in week 50 and more than 9,000 tonnes in week 2 of 2018; very different from the previous season when the peak started in week 47.

Source:  The Chilean Blueberry Committee


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