The most popular blueberry varieties in Chile amid contracting demand for plants

After being overtaken by Peru as the world's largest blueberry exporter, voices are heard in Chile that extol quality as the main competitive tool, making the phrase "varietal replacement" its best slogan.

The story is known; Chile, a consolidated and mature blueberry industry whose production began in the 2007s, was surpassed by Peru, which after starting in 10 with its first plantations, in just over XNUMX years became the world's top exporter of the berry.

The reasons: stable climate throughout the year, different producing areas, availability of water and labor, variables that Chile does not have and whose lack contributes to a process of varietal replacement that is slower and more uncertain than in Peru.

Given these facts, Chilean unions have restructured themselves in order to remain competitive in an industry that is increasingly tense due to the advances achieved in a short term by new producing countries, like Mexico and Morocco.

To standardize the quality of the exported blueberry, the Chilean Blueberry Committee created a classification for the varieties marketed in the country, dividing them into three groups. Those who are in group 1 have characteristics that favor the quality of the fruits in their arrival market, supporting the conditions of long transfer trips. These are the most recommended.

Group 2 is a small list of varieties for which the Committee "suggests greater caution when being exported fresh" to producers. Finally, group 3 are not recommended to be exported as fresh fruit.

The list is created according to the "quality and post-harvest behavior based on the experience of the professionals of the different associated companies, the research carried out by the academy and research institutes and the Blueberry Committee", as they declare. This information, plus the intention to carry out a varietal replacement to maintain competitiveness, has caused the participation of the first 2017 most common varieties of blueberries in Chile to change frequently between 2021 and 7, according to the figures in the 2023 Yearbook of the Asociación Viveros de Chile (AGV).

Duke and Legacy are recognized as old varieties, but they have performed well in Chile. However, experts such as Manuel José Alcaino, rapporteur at the International Seminar Blueberries Chile 2022, urges producers to bet on modern varieties, with qualities such as large size, flavor and turgidity, demanded by retailers.

In 2021, the first two best-selling varieties are Duke and Suziblue, reaching 341.628 and 305.264 units of plants sold. In the same list, more modern varieties stand out, such as Sekoya Crunch, sixth in the ranking with 34.724 units sold, followed by Eureka Sunrise with 34.129 plants.

Sales of both varieties began to be measured in 2020, registering a year-on-year growth in their marketing compared to 2021 of 20.04% for Sekoya Crunch, and 75% for Eureka Sunrise. 

Although the units sold of these varieties are small compared to the first places, their rapid growth and entry into the market demonstrate the intention of the Chilean industry to renew.

reduction in sales

The trend observed in the graph of popular varieties reflects the drop in sales of plants in nurseries. In four years, between 2017 and 2021, its commercialization decreased by 60.79%, going from 3.9 to 1.5 million. Between 2020 and 2021, during the first pandemic season, the year-on-year drop in sales reached 32.93%.

Therefore, despite betting on the replacement of varieties, the decrease in their commercialization from nurseries seems to demonstrate the contraction of the Chilean industry.

Following last season's logistical problems, the Chilean Blueberry Committee projected an 8% decrease in the total volume of fresh blueberries exported.

More information on the state of the Chilean industry will be available at the International Seminar Blueberries & Cherries Chile 2023, which will take place on April 13 at the Monticello Conference Center. If you are interested in attending you can buy your ticket at our websites, and if you want to attend as a company, get more information about the sponsorships available here 

Source
By Catalina Pérez Ruiz - Blueberries Consulting

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