Retail requirements for a consistent, year-round supply is reshaping the blueberry sector, leading to the emergence of a handful of companies with the scale and reach to be able to guarantee premium quality blueberries for 52 weeks a year.
One such company is Chile’s Carsol, which moved a step closer towards its goal of supplying own-production blueberries year-round following the creation of Carsol Peru in August 2017.
Founded by Pedro Carrasco almost 30 years ago, the Chillán-based company was one of the pioneers of Chilean blueberry production. In 2012 it moved into direct exports and today it is Chile’s fourth biggest berry exporter.
From the outset, its main focus has been on the European market. In 2013 it established Carsol Europe in Rotterdam and in 2016 it opened its second European division, Carsol Berries Ibérica in Valencia.
Since its creation the company has been steadily extending its export window and it now offers a seamless supply throughout the year by supplementing its own production with that of long-term partners in Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Europe and Morocco.
The next step, says Carsol Europe’s general manager Horacio Ozer Ami, is to achieve year-round supply of premium own-production blueberries.
The acquisition of 500ha of land in Piura is the latest step in helping the company to reach this goal, significantly boosting its export volume and extending its supply window. According to Ozer, the company’s output is set to double over the next three years to around 18,000 tonnes.
“Our biggest strength is that we farm, pack and ship the fruit ourselves, which gives us complete control over the entire process and guarantees retailers a consistent and uniform year-round supply of premium blueberries,” he says.
Escaping the commoditisation trap has become a priority for blueberry exporters as global acreage continues to climb. With worldwide production set to exceed 900,000 tonnes by 2021 according to International Blueberry Organization forecasts, quality will be the critical factor in driving new consumer demand.
“The market is maturing, and with higher volume comes lower prices, which is why differentiation is becoming increasingly important,” says Carrasco.
“Fortunately, the nutritional benefits and snacking potential of fresh blueberries chime perfectly with today’s lifestyles. They are as popular with young, health-conscious consumers as with older people looking for softer fruits which are easier to eat.”