Thursday, October 13, 2011

FRESH BLUEBERRIES FROM CHILE PROJECTED TO SET NEW RECORD FOR U.S. IMPORTS

FRESH BLUEBERRIES FROM CHILE PROJECTED TO SET NEW RECORD FOR U.S. IMPORTS

SONOMA, CA October 13, 2011 — Imports of fresh Blueberries from Chile are projected to continue their upward momentum this 2011-12 season, rising nearly 12 percent over the prior year to a forecasted 78,000 tons. More than three quarters of total volume is expected to ship to the U.S. based on data collected by the Chilean Blueberry Committee, an affiliate of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Exporters Association. Chile is the world’s second-largest producer of fresh blueberries, and the largest exporter of fresh blueberries to the United States.

The continued growth of exports to the U.S. is attributed to growing demand among American consumers for top-quality fresh blueberries, combined with increased production by Chilean producers. Winter consumption in the U.S. is still one-third of what is being consumed during peak summer months. This year’s slowing of the rate of growth in U.S. imports, compared to last season’s 44 percent increase, is the anticipated result of lower production after last season’s super crop, coupled with increasing demand from the frozen and industrial markets.

“North Americans recognize the many health benefits of fresh blueberries and appreciate the wonderful flavor and versatility they bring to the table. Thanks to Chile’s counter-seasonal production cycle, consumers may enjoy these ‘Little Blue Dynamos*’ year round,” said Tom Tjerandsen, Managing Director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, North America.

According to the Chilean Blueberry Committee, production will continue to increase in future years, as Chile adds production capacity. Approximately 18 percent of Chile’s current planted area is not yet in full production, and 31 percent has not reached full maturity, so roughly half of all blueberry farmers will be increasing output in the next several years, expecting to reach 110,000 to 120,000 tons by 2015/16.

Tjerandsen pointed out that, since Chile’s growing season is opposite the U.S. season, Chilean producers are able to provide a consistent supply of high-quality fresh blueberries during the winter months, when U.S. producers are between their harvest seasons. That way, Chile doesn’t compete directly with U.S. producers, but helps build the market for both the domestic and Chilean blueberry farmers.

To support all of this production growth, the Chilean Blueberry Committee is undertaking an aggressive promotion campaign in major U.S. markets, positioning their product as “Little Blue Dynamos*” by promoting their health and flavor message through trade and consumer marketing initiatives.

The Chilean Blueberry Committee, an organization linked to the Chilean Fresh Fruit Exporters Association, aims to increase the long-term competitiveness of the Chilean fresh blueberry industry and to develop multiple international markets for fresh blueberries from Chile. Chile is currently the second largest producer of cultivated blueberries at a global scale and also the leading grower in the southern hemisphere. More information about Chilean blueberries is available at www.chileanblueberrycommittee.com (click on the British Flag at the bottom for English).

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