30 Aug 2022

INTERNATIONAL BLUEBERRY MONTH CONCLUDES WITH A FOCUS ON PROD...

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International Blueberry Month concludes with a discussion on the harvest and the market.
The realities of the major producing countries and their future projections or goals, the state of international markets, logistical aspects, post-harvest, shipping and receiving the fruit, new developments in automation, and the various challenges of growing blueberry, both in the orchard and in the markets, were explored.

The activities planned for Tuesdays and Thursdays in August 2022, as part of International Blueberry Month, were very varied and characterized by in-depth coverage of each of the main aspects related to the cultivation and marketing of blueberry in the world.

Tuesday, Aug. 23/8, the situation of the blueberry industry in Morocco, the status and prospects of the fruit in the international retail trade, and the reality of blueberry in the Italian market were discussed in depth.


THE GATEWAY TO AFRICA

In the case of Morocco, presenting the "Current Status and Projections of the MoroccanRed FruitIndustry blueberry "was Amine Bennani, president of the Moroccan Red Fruit Producers, who recalled how the Moroccan industry has grown rapidly from 15 hectares in 2008 to the current 5,000 hectares and 6,000 projected in the near term, in an industry that is growing rapidly thanks to technology, modern management systems and new improved varieties that are more productive and have better quality fruit.

The Moroccan supply chain produces mainly from October to June and exports its fruit to 54 countries, arriving with a fresh product in 3 to 4 days to European markets, where the main destination is the English market. It is an industry that grows 20 percent a year and its production is concentrated in the north of the country, although it is expanding to the south and the highlands, trying to extend its calendar to cover the entire year of production and supply to the market.

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Morocco produces and exports blueberry from October to June

QUALITY, THE BEST MARKETING

Analysis of the retail market and the reality of world consumption, in the presentations, "Current State and Projections of the blueberry Industry in Europe," by Hans Liekens, marketing manager of Sekoya, and "Supermarket Sales and the Structure of Consumption in Italy," by Thomas Drahorad, president of NCX Drahorad srl, rounded out the day, illustrating aspects of consumption, consumer habits and product qualities.

"Fruit has to look good" "It is very important to have consistent quality" "You have to watch what happens from farm to fork, all these elements and variations have an impact on quality," both warned in the face of a troubling reality of consumption, with nearly 50 percent of consumers rating it a negative experience and less than 25 percent a positive experience.

"There are people who stop consuming for weeks at a time, and this impact is huge" "We have to achieve consistent quality" "Years ago we wanted to have good distribution, today it is quality that differentiates us," they insist. "The best marketing is quality," they conclude.

QUALITY AND SUSTAINABILITY

Regarding the relationship between fruit quality and sustainability, the analysts conclude that because quality is related to the texture and condition of the fruit, food waste is much more limited, so fruit quality also has a good history of acceptance in supermarkets in this respect.

"The water consumption of blueberry is very low compared to other fruits, and in other respects we are also on the right track in terms of sustainability, such as carbon footprint, because transportation by boat has a lower carbon footprint," they point out.

NEW SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGIES

On the last day, Thursday, August 25, Portuguese researcher Pedro Brás de Oliveira, from the Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e Veterinária, spoke about "Production of blueberries in substrate," stating that " blueberry plants are already well adapted to substrate and protected agriculture systems." He pointed out that these new systems, combined with the genetics of new varieties, allow growers and investors to harvest in the first year after planting, which facilitates a quick return on investment and short-term profitability of the business.

WATER STRESS AND WATER QUALITY

The next topic was "Improving fruit quality of blueberry under water stress conditions through the use of hormonal inducers," presented by Cristián Balbontín, plant breeding and phytotechnology program manager for berries at INIA.

"The plant cannot run away from stress, so it has to adapt," says the specialist and explains in detail his research based on the application of hormone inducers that activate plant genes to improve resistance to water stress.

After an extensive and detailed analysis of the data obtained from his research, Balbontín concludes that water deficit clearly impairs plant metabolism and, consequently, the production of quality fruit, which is why theuse of hormone inducers, such as abscisic acid and jasmonate, have been shown not only to increase plant tolerance to stress under water deficit conditions, but also to increase the quality of blueberry fruit under full water supply and reduced water availability conditions.

A SOLID AND COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAM

The day ended with a presentation "Nutrition and foliar supplementation of nitrogen and potassium in blueberries grown in soil and substrate," given by renowned international researcher and consultant Juan Hirzel, who is always distinguished for his generosity in sharing knowledge and clarifying doubts on the various technical and agronomic aspects related to the cultivation of blueberry, always based on published scientific evidence and his own research.

Previous sessions of International Blueberry Month had addressed the realities of the major Latin American industry countries and their future projections or goals, the state of international markets, logistical aspects, post-harvest, shipping and receiving of fruit, new developments in automation, and the various challenges of growing blueberry, both in the orchard and in markets.

Source: Blueberries Consulting
Blueberries Consulting is part of the global network of Italian Berry

Photo by Alesia Talkachova on Pexels.com

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