The global blueberry industry is set for further growth, according to a new RaboResearch report
A new report from Rabobank has focused on the future of the international blueberry business, with further growth forecast for the coming years.
According to the analyst, the blueberry industry is becoming ”truly global”, with fast-growing supply and/or demand in most continents.
Due to increasing input costs, labour issues and logistical challenges, companies are being pushed to become more productive and efficient, and to consistently provide high-quality fruit.
“The blueberry industry has undergone a significant transformation, with the market shifting from regional to multi-regional to global,” explained David Magaña, senior analyst – fresh produce at Rabobank.
“Per capita availability is set to continue an upward trend in the US, the EU-27 plus the UK, China, and other markets, driven by continued production expansion,” he said.
Chinese and US availability
Blueberry availability in the Chinese market has increased 36-fold over the past decade, Rabobank outlined.
“The beneficial health properties combined with the convenience of this fruit have led to increasing imports as well as significant growth in domestic production,” Magaña continued.
“This growth in China has led Chile and Peru – the main source of blueberry imports in China – to face major challenges in terms of quality and variety renewal, due to long shipping times.”
In the US, fresh blueberry production has grown and availability in the local market has expanded, with organic blueberries capturing market share.
Rabobank data showed that since 2016, US imports had consistently outpaced US domestic production as the industry focused on providing reliable year-round availability to US consumers.
On the other hand, US exports had remained flat or were declining. Going forward, US blueberry imports would continue to grow during the US off-season, the analyst noted.
Exports volumes will expand
“We expect global blueberry exports to surpass 1m tonnes as early as 2025/26,” Magaña outlined. ”Exports from Peru have significant growth potential, while exports from Mexico and South Africa will also show sustained growth. Exports from Chile, Canada, and the US are likely to stabilise.”
Magaña also said that, as the industry transitioned towards increased resiliency and sustainability, new cultivars would be key for the industry to become more input-efficient and meet higher consumer expectations.
”Elevated costs of fertilisers, ag chemicals, and other inputs will continue to drive more input-efficient, higher-yielding, higher-quality fruit cultivars – in short, better genetics,” he confirmed.
“As labour will remain a challenge in the industry, mechanical harvesting and automation will ramp up,” Magaña added. ”Cultivars with an extended shelf-life, that travel well, are desirable, as blueberries face steeper competition in the fruit aisle due to the year-round availability strategy in the fresh produce industry.”