North American blueberry imports for the 2018-19 season will be good despite volume declining slightly from the record levels of a year ago.
With only a 5 percent decline in volume this season, it will hardly be noticed.
Chile has about 1,300 blueberry growers, primarily found in central and southern Chile. The country has about 100 exporters shipping 100 metric tons or more.
With nearly perfect growing conditions last season, Chilean exporters shipped about 110,351 metric tons of fresh blueberries to all export markets with 64 percent destined for North America, 24 percent to Europe and 12 percent to Asia.
This season,Chilean fresh blueberry exports are forecast near 105,000 metric tons with distribution of the crop to be similar to a year ago.
Chilean blueberry exports started in mid-October. Peak shipments will get underway the last week of November, and continuing through February. The season continues through March.
Organic blueberry exports continue and upward trend. Last season, organic blueberry shipments accounted for 9.5 percent of total fresh exports, or about 10,000 metric tons. About 85 percent of the organic “blues” were exported to the U.S.
Total Chilean blueberry acreage was 38,550 acres in July 2017, of which 17 percent was organic production.
Boat vs. Air Shipments
About 90 percent of Chilean blueberry volume to North America is shipped by sea container, and 10 percent by air. Few airplanes for shipping Chilean blueberries in the future is predicted since there is increasing competition from other exporting countries.
Last season, Chile exported about 40,000 metric tons of frozen blueberries — equal to about 40 percent of fresh volume.