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Fred Searle

BY FRED SEARLE

Chile to home in on Spanish blueberry market

Blueberry committee to begin promotions in Spain in coming season following collaboration agreement with Freshuelva last year

Chile to home in on Spanish blueberry market

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Chile is ramping up its promotional activities in blueberries and increasing its focus on the Spanish market as it looks to boost global consumption of the fruit.

With Chile’s export volumes scaling new heights in the 2017/18 season and competition rising from other Southern Hemisphere suppliers, notably Peru, the Chilean Blueberry Committee has its eye on growing markets.

The body’s executive director Andrés Armstrong said it was planning to invest in promotional activities in Spain in the coming season, which is due to start in September.

At Fruit Attraction 2017 last October, Chilean fruit exporter association Asoex and Spain’s Freshuelva signed a collaborative agreement, announcing their intention to share information on various fruits, as well as undertaking reciprocal visits during the key export seasons for both countries.

Armstrong has now suggested that this initial collaboration will pave the way for Chilean promotions in Spain, particularly in the b2b sector, in the coming season.

Despite being Europe’s biggest blueberry producer and having one of the continent’s highest per capita levels of fruit and vegetable consumption, Spain has much lower blueberry consumption than other northern European countries.

Looking to change this, Freshuelva has also started to focus on boosting domestic consumption in Spain, with production volumes growing year on year.

Speaking after signing the collaborative agreement last year, Charif Christian Carvajal, Asoex’s marketing director for Europe and Asia, said the campaign would take advantage of the “completely complementary” blueberry seasons in Chile and Spain.

In the current Chilean blueberry season, which is now drawing to a close, Italy has been a fresh target for promotions.

In the US and other parts of Europe, blueberry consumption has been on the up for a number of years, with UK consumption doubling between 2011 and 2015. This is thanks largely to positive press coverage and research on the soft fruit’s health benefits.

In Italy, however, the fruit is only just starting to gain popularity, leaving lots of room to increase imports. Domestic Italian production starts in June and ends mid-August, making the country well suited to receive Chilean blueberries in the counterseason.

The Chilean Blueberry Committee is also continuing to invest in promotional activities in North America, its main market, Armstrong confirmed.

“Most of our activities there are focused on generating promotional activities in the peak weeks to help the fruit move faster,” he said, with Chile shipping over 5,000 tonnes of blueberries a week to the US in the fisrt three weeks of February 2018.

Exports to Asia are also growing steadily, with shipments to China exceeding 10,000t in the 2017/18 season. In Taiwan, meanwhile, export volumes remained steady after what Armstrong described as a “huge increase” in sales in 2016/17. This was propelled by the Chilean Blueberry Committee’s promotional activity with supermarkets and collaboration with Sicilian chef Andrea Bonaffini.

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