Argentina has met 2020 expectations of Blueberry exports during 2020. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, Argentina exported 11,000 tons of fresh blueberries and 3,500 tons of frozen blueberries.
Although the pandemic greatly altered the situation, Argentina managed to keep its production volume constant, around 18,000 tons, of which 11,000 were exported fresh, 3,500 frozen and 3,000 were destined to the domestic market.
Trials were enormous during these months, with stern operation protocols affecting the way of working, harvesting and packaging. To be able to fight the constant drop in prices, there were logistical changes to maritime transport in order to reach the markets with more efficient costs.
Good Demand and Improving Quality
Demand was high, but prices have fallen again due to the additional volume pressure applied by Peru, which went from 105,000 to 140,000 tons from August to December.
The Argentine fruit continues to be recognized for its premium quality, and the country is proud to be working with projects such as PAR, and the development of the Social Compliance System for the prevention of child labour and the protection of adolescents.
Argentina continues to work hard on improving quality, and increasing the quantity of sea shipments and organic fruit. The exports continued with similar percentages to previous years, with allocating 65% to the U.S. and Canada, 30% to the European Union and United Kingdom, and 5% to Asia.
Challenges that were faced
The major impact faced during the pandemic was logistical. This sector was forced to send most orders by sea transportation due to flights being reduce and prices increasing. During the 2020 season, almost 60% of the exports were maritime shipments, when in the past it had never exceeded 30%. Its important to note the cost of transportation is really crucial in competitiveness. While the cost of air transport is around USD 2.50/kilo, sea transport has a cost of USD 0.50/kilo.
This being said, it was surprising how the shipping companies stepped up to the extra services, with some companies offering the monitoring of temperatures along the whole trip every 48/72 hours, giving visibility of its behaviour to shipper, thus ensuring the provision of cold throughout the journey of the fruit to its destination.
Overall, the Argentine blueberry season has been very positive in terms of adapting to the new regional scenario. Large exporters have already consolidated the change from air shipments to sea shipments, while smaller-scale exporters have managed with a lot of effort, to successfully adapt to this complex scheme.
There is expected to be a small increase in volumes, mainly in the organic program, in which the main exporters have stood out this last season. It’s also important to highlighted the sector’s search for constant improvements in terms of technologies and the rapid adaptation and evolution the producers had to turn to maritime. There is a positive note that the sector is on the right track, seeking to open new markets and get out of the traditional way to reach places where other countries are not focused.
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