Peruvian blueberries have been on the UK market for a couple of weeks, first the berries came via airfreight and in the last ten days the seafreight started to arrive. The arrivals will continue until March.
The European market is short of blueberries after Poland had less volumes than was expected, according to some figures around 35-40% less, causing the Northern Hemisphere season came to an abrupt end. Argentina is also a bit late this year, which compounds the shortage.
Big increase in production
“The quality of the Peruvian fruit looks good,” explained Rob Cullum from Pacific Produce. “This will be our third year of importing blueberries and we are learning more about it each year. The first year was just a trial with only 2 containers shipped, this year we are expecting to do over 50 containers just to the UK, but the farm in Peru is producing 600+ containers which will be shipped around the world.”
The global demand for blueberries is still increasing, mature markets, such as North America and the UK, are still growing. “China and Asia are new markets for us, the Chileans have been there for a while and the demand is still growing. Western Europe is also growing where the UK is probably the most advanced market,” explains Rob.
The blueberry is an easy to eat, healthy product – it may be expensive in some markets just now but as consumption grows, so will production and then the price will reduce as people get more efficient at producing and shipping them. The blueberry also has the major advantage over other softfruit in that it can go via seafreight.
Although Chile is by far the biggest exporter of blueberries, Peru is growing fast and will be in the mix in the future and hopefully to be a key source.
Advantage over Chile
“Peru has the advantage, in that they can grow year round, meaning they can choose when to produce and seafrieght from very early in the Southern Hemisphere season, giving them an advantage over bigger players such as Chile and Argentina,” said Rob. “Peru can also go head to head with Chile in the main season. Chile have years of experience in exporting blueberries and are very good at it, but we will catch up. Another advantage is for customers to have one point of contact for the whole season, which can last 6 months.”
The first of Pacific Produce’s Peruvian grapes will arrive in the UK on Saturday. Only the first 5-6 weeks of supply will go to the UK and European markets, as Namibia come will online with lower prices, driven by a huge currency advantage compared to Peru.
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