The growing availability of high quality blueberries from Mexico is changing the landscape of counterseasonal supply, according to leading US breeder Fall Creek Farm & Nursery.
In an exclusive interview with Fruitnet, the company’s director of international business development Cort Brazelton and Latin American sales manager Jeff Ford explained how the quality of Mexican blueberries, the know-how of the country’s growers, extended production window and proximity to the US, the world’s largest market, would have a major impact on the industry in the years ahead.
“Mexico is one of the biggest game changers in global blueberry supply,” Brazelton said. “Every year we see increased volume of quality fruit available in more weeks and this is raising the expectation of the market during these periods. Once Mexico’s production reaches scale, the bar will be raised for everyone else who wants to be competitive in North America during the September through May counterseasonal window.”
Firing a warning shot to producers in South America, Ford predicted fruit that was once accepted by the market could struggle to find a home in the future as discerning customers in North America and other markets were able to source more volume from Mexico.
“Countries like Argentina and Chile are forced to ensure that their arrivals, often after a journey of 30 or more days, have the same eating quality as a three or four-day-old blueberry from Mexico," he said.
However, Ford claimed South American producers had the tools at their disposal to improve their offer. “The good news is that new genetics combined with other new technologies put this outcome within reach of the Southern Cone growers and shippers, although this doesn’t mean they can rest on their laurels.”
Brazektib noted that growers in South America would be forced to rethink their export mix and focus more on yield, production efficiencies and arrival quality.
“Fall Creek understands and anticipates those challenges and offers genetics and support to help growers align with that future,” he said.
The full interview can be read in Fresh Focus Latin America 2015/16.