Latest estimate pegs export crop at 80,000 tonnes, up from the 73,500 tonnes predicted in November

Andres Armstrong

Andres Armstrong

The Chilean Blueberry Committee and iQonsulting have revised the export forecast for 2023/24 campaign upwards in their latest release. CBC executive director Andrés Armstrong said the country is on course to export 80,000 tonnes of fresh blueberries this season, slightly down on the 82,000 tonnes projected at the beginning of the campaign but higher than the last estimate of 73,500 tonnes, released in November.

This would mean a decrease of 8.5 per cent compared to the 2022/23 shipment total.

Armstrong said it has been particularly difficult to predict export volumes this season due to weather conditions leading to a slower development of the crop, “very concentrated” peak weeks and a more extended conclusion to the season.

“We will close the season with a better varietal mix and better fruit quality, which has allowed us to improve our competitiveness in destination markets,” Armstrong said.

Air shipments were up almost 200 per cent this season, a clear indication of that supply was outstripped by demand in some weeks. By week 3, Chile had exported 61,664 tonnes of blueberries, 15.6 per cent less than in the corresponding period last season.

Regarding destinations, the US continues to be the main market, taking 24,000 tonnes of blueberries, followed by Europe, Canada, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, in that order.

Harvesting in Chiles Central-South zone, which accounts for the bulk of exports, is now winding down. “This area is the one that contributes the volume of the peak period. Between weeks 50 and 3, an average of 8,885 tonnes were shipped each week, with weeks 51 and 2 marking the highest shipments due to the rescheduling of vessels from the previous week,” Armstrong said.

Meanwhile, harvesting is now underway in the southern zone, which supplies the final stage of the Chilean season. “Here there is a slight delay to harvesting so we’re expecting a slower and therefore longer ending than last season, which came to a more abrupt end,” Armstrong said. “These favourable conditions could allow more fruit to be exported fresh.”