Export of fresh Blueberries from Chile is projected to continue the upward momentum this 2012-13 season, forecasted to rise by 21% over the prior year to 84.900 tons from last year’s 70.800 tons. More than three quarters of the total volume is expected to ship to the U.S., based on data collected by the Chilean Blueberry Committee, an affiliate of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Exporters Association.
The continued expansion of Chile’s blueberry exports is attributed to growing demand among North American consumers for top-quality fresh blueberries year-round. To meet rising demand, Chilean farmers are increasing blueberry production, with total output expected to reach 110,000 to 120,000 tons by 2015/16.
Chile’s Blueberry harvest is just now underway, primarily in the northern regions, where producers are seeing normal fruit yields for this time of year. “Moderate spring temperatures are providing favorable growing conditions,” said Tom Tjerandsen, Managing Director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, North America, “and we expect to see Jewel, Duke and O’Neil blueberry varieties in the American marketplace in the next few weeks, as harvest activity and exports pick up.”
Tjerandsen points out that, since Chile’s growing season is opposite the U.S. season, Chilean producers are able to provide a consistent supply of high-quality fresh blueberries during the winter months, when U.S. producers are between their harvest seasons. That way, Chile doesn’t compete directly with U.S. producers, but helps build the market for both the domestic and Chilean blueberry farmers.
To support all of this production growth, the Chilean Blueberry Committee is undertaking an aggressive promotion campaign in major U.S. markets, positioning their product as “Little Blue Dynamos” by promoting their health and flavor message through trade and consumer marketing initiatives. The campaign kicks-off with a media blitz that has spokespeople fanning out across the country appearing on food and talk shows, in-store radio and recipe releases. A colorful array of market-proven POP material is being offered to retailers and two new foodservice merchandisers will be working in this distribution channel to build business.