In 2012, Peruvian company Inka's Berries and the University of Georgia (UGA) signed an agreement to develop new varieties of blueberry with world-class standards. As part of this scientific collaboration, Salvador was born , a selection that provides blueberries with high quality, even during the months of October, November and December, when other varieties show tired, low calibre fruit and a lack of 'flowering'.
There are more than ten Peruvian companies that have planted Salvador in their fields or are waiting to plant it. Similarly, Inka's Berries has already marketed it in countries such as Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, Portugal, Spain, Mexico and the United States, being the representative of this variety worldwide.
Salvador is a selection developed by UGA and validated for Peruvian conditions as part of the Inka's Berries breeding programme. It was launched on the market at the end of 2017 and its productivity is over 3 kg/plant. "In our commercial fields, we had yields of 10 t/ha the first year and for the second year we expect to close with over 23 t/ha. Being an upright variety, Salvador allows us to increase the density and not damage the face of the plant. Today we have our fields with 10,000 plants/ha, which have a production potential of more than 30 t/ha," comments Gereda.
400 HECTARES OF PROPERTY IN 2022
The executive director of Inka's Berries reports that of the 140 productive hectares that the company currently has planted, 40 correspond to Salvador. By the end of 2020, they will include another 60 hectares. By 2021, they plan to plant another 100 hectares and, by 2022, to add another 200 hectares. In total there will be 400 hectares of a variety that, in the opinion of specialists in the markets where it is already grown, stands out for its flavour, with an average Brix of 13 and a low and pleasant acidity point. "Another characteristic that customers appreciate is its great firmness. Before launching the variety, we had an independent laboratory certify a shelf life of 52 days," stresses Gereda.
OTHER VARIETIES ON THE HORIZON
Inka's Berries programme with the University of Georgia comprises three generations of varieties. The first generation features Salvador and Matias. The latter is a very early blueberry with great flavour, calibre and firmness. "At this stage of the programme, we have developed high quality genetics with a royalty only on the plants; the fruit is sold freely and without royalty," Gereda points out.
In the second generation, Inka's Berries will have varieties such as Abril and Alessia, which will be available in the next three years. In this case, interested parties will have to pay royalties for both the plant and the fruit, which they will be free to sell.
"The third generation includes exclusive genetics for Inka's Berries and our commercial partners. In this generation, we will have Blue Dan, a superior calibre variety, over 25 mm, and LIN, a highly productive variety, with yields over 5 kg/plant, both with exceptional flavour," says Gereda. With these varieties, the business model will be different, as those who want to have them will have to pay royalties for the plants and also for the fruit. Sales will have to be made through Inka's Berries' commercial channels.
2021, THE GOAL OF DOUBLING SALES
Inka's Berries ended 2020 with sales of more than $12 million, which is 20% more than in 2019. And by 2021, it estimates doubling its sales to $24 million in sales, thanks to new plants and plant sales.
"Although this year has been atypical because of the Covid-19 situation, we can save and draw as a lesson that both health and food are needs that should be prioritised over other things. In the same way, it is important to rememberthat Peruvian agro-exports have proven to be one of the main drivers of the national economy, advancing under an 'ad hoc' legal framework and bringing employment to hundreds of thousands of families in the country," says Carlos Gereda.
He stresses that the development of national agro-export needs other strategic partners, such as banking institutions and investment funds, who still see agriculture as too risky, informal and slow, arguments that the current context has shown to be false.
Inkas Berrie's plans for the next five years are to plant 1,000 hectares in three different locations in Peru, again with genetics developed by the company. "Weaim to launch a variety at least every two years, and we are very responsible about this, as no variety we launch on the market has less than five years of study in our fields. With this we aim to provide our customers with solutions and genetics that are 100% validated for Peruvian conditions," Carlos Gereda optimistically points out.
FEATURES OF SALVADOR
|3 kg per plant (3rd year)
|Europe and Asia
"Salvador is a very firm blueberry , with an excellent 'bloom' and a size above 18 mm in more than 60% of its production," explains Carlos Gereda, executive president of Inka's Berries, who named this new variety after his son. "All these advantages are beginning to be known and recognised by our customers and consumers, who see in Salvador a different blueberry that, without a doubt and as they tell us, has come to stay," adds Gereda. Naturally, the entrepreneur advises his customers to be very disciplined in fertigation so that the variety can express its full potential.