Chilean heat speeds up the end of its blueberry season

From Fresh Plaza | 17 February 2023

Overview of blueberries from Chile from Peru in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on February 15, 2023. 

Chilean blueberry supplies have begun to slow down significantly. “Our Chilean volume was almost cut in half essentially and others in the industry have almost stopped,” says Joshua Minton of Frank Donio Inc. “Chile got too hot and the growing conditions became worse for the fruit.”

In the past, Chile has gone as late as the third week of March, though it’s been inconsistent–some years, it almost skipped February and shipped sizeable volumes in March. “We’re now 90 percent done with the Chilean season and are on the downward trajectory. In three weeks, it’s going to be primarily a Mexican and Peruvian-driven market,” adds Minton.

blueberry volumes by his 5

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

While Peru will likely go until the first week of April with arrivals into the last week of March, some Mexican blueberries are already being shipped across the country.

Blueberry ad buys

Meanwhile, demand is contending with inflationary times. “Any retailer that’s going on ad buys has done very well and movement has been great,” says Minton, noting that blueberries still sees a ‘health halo’ in the minds of consumers. “Everybody’s been pretty much on and off ads for the past six weeks because there’s been so much volume coming in. The ad pull has been really really nice.”

That means pricing has been aggressive and deals can be found. “If you have a large pile and you have a larger pile coming in, you can undercut the market based on your own aggression. We’ve seen that with Chile and Peru over the past few years. Once they get their volume, they can undercut the market by $2 for example,” says Minton, noting that it’s a balance in maintaining good returns for the grower as well.

Looking ahead, he predicts a hot market with blueberries continuing to move well. “The supply line will be limited to Peru and Mexico and the Peruvian we’ll see quality-wise,” says Minton.

Even further out is the start of the Florida blueberry crop, which should begin around April 15th. “It could be earlier than that and most people are excited to get back to the domestic crop. We’re also New Jersey growers so we’re looking forward to starting around June 15th,” he says.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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