Executive Director of the Blueberry Committee at Global Berry Congress 2022: “We are optimistic about this new season. We will have the conditions to arrive with more consistent quality fruit”

The world berry industry met in Rotterdam, in a new edition of the Global Berry Congress. The event was held on Tuesday, November 15, where the executive director of the Chilean Blueberry Committee-ASOEX, Andrés Armstrong, had an outstanding participation as a speaker.

Armstrong was part of the "New Market Opportunities" block, where he was interviewed by Maura Maxwell, addressing the topic "A look at the current business of Chilean blueberries", an opportunity in which he highlighted the work of the Chilean industry to enhance quality and promote blueberry consumption.

"Today, the blueberry industry worldwide is increasing in volumes, but also in the entry of new players, with new varieties and with good access to markets. For this reason, it is vital to have quality fruit to be able to compete, and that has been the work that the Committee has been developing together with its associates since its inception. A work that is embodied in the Committee's Quality System, under which, for example, those varieties that allow a good quality and condition of arrival are promoted. Leaving varieties off the palette for fresh exports explains the drop in the estimate for this export season, and the growth in shipments of frozen blueberries. In the short term we reduce the volumes, ”said the executive director of the Committee in his presentation.

It should be noted that the Committee made an estimate of exports for this 2022-2023 season of 98.228 tons, a figure that represents a drop of 8% compared to the previous season. At the same time, a 14% growth in frozen blueberries was projected, reaching 60 thousand tons.

Optimism

Likewise, he pointed out that there is a positive view of this season: "Regardless of the production increases in other countries and the greater competition that this implies, this season we are optimistic, since there is a better scenario compared to last season. On the one hand, the world is moving towards normality after the Covid pandemic, but also internally we see a greater availability of workers for the harvest, packaging and export process. There are also efforts in logistics that will allow us to reach our destinations faster, as is the case of the Blueberry Express service, which includes shipments of our fresh blueberries in refrigerated ships from the port of Coronel to the port of Gloucester in the United States." .

The representative also highlighted that, in the case of exports to Asia, Chilean blueberries accompany cherries in the Cherry Express service, which allows us to reach our destination faster, which is key to a better condition of the fruit. "In the case of Europe, we see that port logistics is improving, which also leads us to be more optimistic that we will be able to reach different markets with our blueberries," he pointed out.

Regarding promotions, he indicated that consumption will be reinforced through promotional programs. "This season we will focus our promotions on some specific markets such as South Korea, Germany and the United States, focusing mainly on retail stores."

Market opening and international collaboration

However, regarding the opening of new markets and boosting shipments to certain areas this season, Armstrong stressed that “most of the work to gain access to world markets for Chilean blueberries has already been done. One of the latest markets to open up has been India, and before that Korea and China, which are already the main markets for Chilean blueberries in Asia. India has potential that needs to be addressed as logistics solutions increase. Southeast Asia is also on the growth curve. Today we are working on having phytosanitary agreements with New Zealand and Vietnam”.

The leader was also in favor of greater international collaboration between blueberry producing and exporting countries, especially in a context of rapidly increasing volumes of this fruit worldwide. “Although, there is always room for more collaboration. The good news is that blueberry growers and exporters are organized in different countries, which is crucial when thinking about collaboration at the country level. There are two places where different countries are working together, one is the International Blueberry Organization (IBO), which has focused on improving information on the growth of production around the world and making it available to all participants in industry to improve decision-making processes. And the other is the US Highbush Blueberry Council, in which both domestic and imported production, both fresh and frozen, contribute and collaborate on behalf of the blueberry industry. The objective is research on health benefits and increased consumption, especially in the US market, but the international program is also being strengthened ”, he closed.

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