News and insight for North America's fresh produce buyers
Chris Komorek

BY CHRIS KOMOREK

@ckfruitnet

Thursday 30th September 2021, 21:44 Central Time

Blueberry consumption tipped to skyrocket

Rabobank fresh produce report predicts global fresh blueberry exports to expand steadily over coming years

Blueberry consumption tipped to skyrocket

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Agricultural banking specialist Rabobank has indicated global fresh blueberry exports are likely to expand steadily during the next few years, as growing regions continue to diversify around the globe.

In a report released overnight, Rabobank’s report highlighted companies are being “pushed to be more productive and more efficient and to consistently provide high-quality fruit.” 

It expects improved cultivars to play an increasingly significant role across growing regions, which is concentrated in the Americas. The Asia-Pacific region is expanding fast, however, along South America and new growing regions in Europe, Africa, and Asia. 

“We expect global exports in 2025/26 to reach close to 900,000 tonnes, with over 70 per cent coming from the top-five exporting countries: Peru, Chile, Canada, Mexico, and Spain/Morocco,” said David Magaña, senior analyst – fresh produce at Rabobank in North America.

Expanding global demand

Global blueberry export volume has grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 11 per cent during the recent decade.

International shipments and availability have exploded in the last decade, fuelled by what Rabobank said was “the rising production of new actors in the industry, such as Peru, Mexico, Morocco, South Africa, and China, which complements the existing supply from the US, Chile, Argentina, and local supply from Europe.”

Since the 2019/20 season, Peru has become the largest global fresh blueberry exporter, and Chile is now the second-largest global exporter of blueberries.

“Both Chile and Peru have outstanding market access, with tariff-free access to China, Europe, and the US. These countries are well-positioned to benefit from expanding global demand,” explained Gonzalo Salinas, senior analyst – fresh produce at Rabobank in South America.

A shifting demand landscape

In terms of consumption, the US and Canada combined still absorb the highest blueberry volume, but Europe is now the main source of demand growth. In the same way, China is leading the blueberry consumption in Asia thanks to the growth of its local and imported supply. The demand landscape is going from being North America-centric to having diverse engines around the globe.

Improved cultivars to play a key role across growing regions

As the market becomes more competitive and consumers more demanding, consistent quality is vital to seize the growth opportunities, outlined the report authors.

“Breeding programmes are developing cultivars for different chill requirements, focusing on flavour, firmness, and shelf life to appeal to more consumers and retailers. Growers may benefit from higher input efficiency, better yields, and the potential for mechanical harvesting,” said Magaña.

The blueberry industry requires efficient growers, packers, and shippers in every growing region and reliable partners to create a virtuous marketing circle. Post-harvest improvements are still needed in order to arrive in far-away markets with better quality product.

“With the increasing delays in undocking in different ports around the world, logistics and having fruit with longer post-harvest quality is a must,” concluded Salinas.

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