Yields of the United Export blueberry variety in Peru will “not be affected at all” by the weather phenomenon

Australia-based agricultural company United Exports has said that production of its Ozblu Magica variety is standing strong in Peru, despite the significant impact of El Niño on the country’s blueberry crop.

Ozblu Magica blueberries Peru United Exports

Peru exported a record 286m tonne of fresh blueberries in 2022/23, according to industry data for the year ending 30 April 2023. Initial crop estimates for the 2023 season predicted that volumes would be up by 14 per cent to 326m tonnes.

However, the El Niño weather phenomenon has had a “significant, direct impact” on blueberry production in the country, particularly in the north, according to Roger Horak, chairman and founder of United Exports.

As a result, industry body Proarandanos has said that blueberry exports out of Peru, as at week 38, are some 48 per cent lower than they were at the same point last year. 

Most of the growing regions in Peru have reported that the crop will be later and volumes will be significantly lower than projected.

“The El Niño effect resulted in a warmer winter, which impacted many blueberry varieties – even those that require a limited amount of chill,” explained leading blueberry advisor Sebastián Ochoa Münzenmayer.

“We are seeing most varieties producing significantly less fruit or simply not producing at all.”

Magic Magica

However, Horak has said that the Ozblu Magica variety is bucking the trend, showing resilience to the country’s highly unfavourable growing conditions.

“In contrast to this current trajectory, when it comes to Ozblu Magica, we are seeing more and more magic and, based on our data, we don’t believe that the yield of this highly productive variety will be impacted at all and will again be expecting marketable yields to average well over 40 tonnes per hectare,” he outlined.

“Ozblu Magica is part of our evergreen series and it is far more resilient when it comes to chill requirements.

”We have seen the effect inflation has had on production costs, and unfortunately pricing has not maintained the balance in all markets,” Horak continued. ”When you have a year like this – plus no production – it has a massive effect on the economic viability of Peruvian farms.

”Having Ozblu Magica as part of the production units is a huge win from a farming income perspective and as importantly will ensure supply for customers, when others are letting them down.”

Oz Varieties has embarked on a limited expansion programme of Ozblu Magica as it looks to satisfy growing demand.

“Looking at Chinese market reports, Ozblu Magica is continually placed at the top of the list,” said Horak. ”We are also seeing the same results and demand from our top-tier USA retailers who are comfortable paying premium prices for their consumers to have access to Ozblu Magica.

”We simply don’t have the supply to scratch the surface of the demand we have created,” he added. ”This is why we are expanding our licensing of Ozblu Magica to growers in Peru and Mexico, with third-party growers, to ensure we can satisfy customer demand.”