20 Aug 2020

PERU, THAT'S WHY IT'S GOING TO BE A RECORD-BREAKING 2020/21...

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Thefirst Peruvian blueberries arrived in Europe at the end of July, with a very aggressive commercial strategy that replicated the pattern of 2019. In fact, the first containers that arrived in Rotterdam entered the European market at a brisk pace, adjusting to the prices of continental productions that were in full swing (Poland first and foremost) around Eur 5.50 - 6.00.

This allowed European buyers to make contact with the Peruvian product, noting its good quality characteristics and creating the conditions for a quick changeover as soon as the Polish blueberry , which is showing more problems than usual at the end of the season, no longer has the characteristics required by the market.

Peru is gaining space on the market also because it will need outlets in all destinations worldwide, having a production that is growing at levels never seen before in the global panorama.

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In his speech at the inauguration of International Blueberry Month, Proarandanos director Miguel Bentín announced the projection that the organisation that leads the Peruvian industry estimates for the 2020/2021 season, and which corresponds exactly to a volume of 171,160,573 kg, which would mean an increase of 42.5% compared to last season.

The Peruvian producer and industry pioneer highlighted the accelerated growth of blueberry cultivation over the past eight years in his country, from 70 hectares in 2012 to around 14 thousand hectares in 2020, with a planting rate of 1,500 hectares per year. "This accelerated growth has been in area and investment," he explains.

REASONS FOR GROWTH

This growth translates into an increase from 1,400 tons in the 2013/2014 season, to 118,000 in the 2019/2020 season and 171,000 planned for 2021. "I would say that the reasons that led to this result were basically two, first the opportunities that existed for the crop, and also the experience that the Peruvian industry has had in non-native crops, so it has managed to adapt it successfully.

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The director of Proarándanos Peru: Miguel Bentín

This previous experience prompted Peru to look at diversification with much better eyes and we saw that it was possible to develop our portfolio and expand our offering with blueberries," Bentin analyses.

In the field of Peru's comparative advantages, Miguel Bentín highlights the geographical and climatic conditions which are "very favourable compared to the rest of the productive regions, not just the neighbouring ones". This allows for the development of an industry and a fairly planned season "because we are not affected in a recurring way by important climatic factors, which disrupt production, such as excessive rain or frost".

EXTENDED SEASON

"The type of climate we have, especially on the coast, allows us to have unusually long seasons which, combined with the fact that it allows us to plan without interruption, make us a constant supplier and give our product a rather long and favorable post-harvest life".

The other factor that the executive highlights is Peru's geographical location, which gives it an advantage in logistics routes and frequencies.

"These conditions have allowed Peru to become the largest producer of fresh blueberries in the southern hemisphere and the largest exporter on the planet in the last eight years," he says.

SPEED AND VARIETAL REPLACEMENT

"Privileged positions in the markets are ancient history and will no longer exist, so the longer you can be present in the market, with good quality and consistently, the more valid you are as a supplier in terms of reliability. This is an advantage that Peru will take advantage of if possible," he points out.

Delving into the climatic advantage, he points out that this allows Peruvian blueberry to develop very quickly from planting to first production. "This is a great advantage, because in case of varietal replacement - which is already necessary - it will allow Peru to be very fast."

ORGANIC

As a relevant figure, Miguel Bentín, highlights the Peruvian industry's projected production of organic blueberries , estimated at over 8,300 kg for the coming season. "This means the destruction of the myth that it was difficult to do organic production in a place like the coast of Peru," he concludes.

NEW MARKETS: CHINA

At the same time, about two weeks later than in the previous two years, the first Peruvian blueberry arrived in China in mid-August.

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Lucas Rosello (Horifrut Asia Platform Export Manager) said:

"China is undoubtedly one of the main export destinations. Since Peru gained access to China, the volume of exports has increased steadily year on year. Although there are many large producers in South America, Peru has some geographical advantages. The high marketing season usually starts in mid-August and lasts until November. During this period, there are small productions and low marketing volumes from other countries, which also gives the Peruvian blueberries a larger market space. The total volume of exports in this season can reach 2,000 containers, of which Hortifrut is expected to account for about 15%".

PERUVIAN BLUEBERRY IN THE UNITED STATES

Luciano Fiszman of Gourmet Trading Co (California, USA) analyzed the impact of the Peruvian season, which is eroding market share to the local U.S. product.

"A few years ago, there was no room for Peru in this early season. Most retailers prefer to stick to domestic production, Over time, US consumers have learned that Peruvian produce is healthy and firm. blueberries from regions such as British Columbia and Michigan tend to be softer and less hardy because their varieties are older and the climate is hot.

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INVESTMENTS CONTINUE

The growth curve of Peruvian investment in the blueberry sector thus seems to be unwavering.

Peru's Complejo Agroindustrial Beta expects to increase its production of blueberries by 135% during this year's campaign (July-December) compared to the previous campaign, reaching 12,000-13,000 tonnes of berries.

The company's general manager, Lionel Arce Orbegozo, said this growth is due to the fact that more areas are entering production and other areas are achieving higher yields as they have entered their maturity period. Ninety per cent of the production will be sold as blueberries fresh and the remaining 10 per cent frozen, he said.

Complejo Agroindustrial Beta abrirá oficina comercial en España ...
Lionel Arce Orbegozo, General Manager of Complejo Agroindustrial Beta

The company currently has 1,000 hectares of blueberries, 700 in Lambayeque (Jayanca and Olmos), and 300 in Ica, where they grow mainly Ventura, Biloxi, and other patented varieties. The northern areas are all already in production and the southern areas are entering their first harvest this year, Arce said.

The fresh blueberry will be sent to Europe, the US and Asia; while the frozen blueberry will be sent to Japan and the US. "We are trying to increase our share in the European market, but the US is a mandatory market," he said.

Source: Blueberries Consulting. Freshplaza

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