During the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the food supply chain has been called upon to preserve access to a safe supply of healthy foods and beverages. During this challenging time, blueberry growers, packers and marketers are investing resources to supply fresh and frozen blueberries around the globe. The pandemic has placed unparalleled strain and restrictions on global food supply chains, with constraints in farm labour, processing, transport, and logistics.
Farm production has been affected by labour blockages. Some farming sectors are more dependent on labour than others: fruits and vegetables are more labour-intensive and require more physical labour, which is not easy to find.
South America and South Africa are the leading supplier of blueberries in the global market, followed by Peru. Although Peru has greater production of blueberries this year in contrast to last one, the high demand has resulted in shortage of supply in the market, and as a consequence the prices have also increased.
Chile: Sustainability, Quality and Taste
With the Chilean blueberry season underway, the industry is expecting to continue diversifying its markets and offer a higher proper of newer and improved varieties. The expected production for 2020-21 season is 154,000 MT, and are anticipating a stable export volume. New consumers were incorporated from Asia and Europe, and volumes also increased from other export markets. Although USA continues to be Chiles biggest export market with 50% shipped here, volumes have decreased for the last two seasons running. Chile will continue to be an important and reliable supplier, prioritizing taste, quality and sustainability.
Argentina: Superior quality
The blueberry harvest began strongly in October and is expected to be completed next month. Although product in 2020 is similar to other season, it is obvious that the pandemic has affected the logistics, protection of vulnerable growers and the PAR project running since last year. This project is a 3 pillar monitering system – Prevention, Monitering and Care. Argentina has a big contribution of blueberries to the international market. Countries located at the northern hemisphere are always in special demand for blueberries harvested by countries like Argentina as they don’t have efficient production in their own land. Although the quality witnessed is better than last year, the volume is lesser as compared to Mexico and Peru which are the highest suppliers in the international market at this time. In the previous years, Argentina would export 50% percent of blueberries through air freight and the rest by sea. This year, as air services are limited as a health security measure, Argentina is facing trouble figuring out how to export the remaining 50% of the blueberries.
United States: Scarcity in the market.
North America market is having a shortage of blueberries which has led to the absence of the domestic supply, and forcing the market to rely on imports from Mexico and Peru. A Grower from North Carolina forecast that due to the growing volume cost will fluctuate between $28 and $32 in the starting weeks of November.
Australia: Shortage of Farm Workers could lead to deficit of berries
The official season for blueberries in Australia begins in the last week of November, and there is record production to harvest this year again.
However, the situation is not favorable for the farmers this year due to a shortage of farm workers to help with the fruit picking. This is causing producers to lower prices within their state, although the demand exists for Australian blueberries in other countries such as China and North America.
Peru’s Blueberry Market has been Thriving
The Peruvian Blueberries season has been underway for months now, and it has been going well according to the growers. The production this season is a staggering 40% more than last season, with about 160-170 million KG in total. This is partially due to improved yields and higher planted acreage. Although the product has been high, there has been huge demand in the market to absorb it all. Prices are stable at the moment, and the biggest importers from Peru are Europe, North America and China. Due to the pandemic, retail demand has also increased which has a positive outcome for the producers around the country. Also due to the pandemic however, is the increased freight rates. They are almost 40% more than last year, and adding to the pressure, there are not many flights available. Fortunately ocean freight has been available and stable throughout. Export volumes suggest that it is already at its peak despite a surge in coronavirus cases in the country. In Peru, the commercial export of blueberries across the Global Market continued without any disruption from July to December.
Currently there is high competition in the European markets due to the oversupply of blueberries from Peru, so some countries have opted to sell their fruit locally while adopting a “low-risk low return” strategy.
The blueberry market in Europe is projected to register a CAGR of 2.4% during the forecast period (2020-2025). The tabletop has become a widely used concept in Europe in greenhouses and can be adapted for outdoor use with the use of a high tunnel. In order to increase the marketable produce in the region to serve the consumer demands, the farmers have resorted to polytunnels. This method increases the probability of a good crop and extends the growing season from 4-6 weeks to a much wider time frame of early spring to autumn. Therefore, the shift to high technology methods has led to an increase in the production of yield in the country.
Our Promise to You
While the impacts of COVID-19 are still unfolding, experience so far shows the importance of an open and predictable international trade environment to ensure food can move to where it is needed.
Our supply chain team resisted the challenges and have become more resilient, agile, and flexible to cope with supply and demand surprises, and new technology and data platforms can help prepare for future disruption. Food traceability is extremely important to us, various technologies and methods are currently being used to trace ingredients, including simple printed stickers, stamps, and leading-edge blockchain technologies. These systems can give producers, suppliers, distributors, retailers and consumers access to trusted information regarding the origin and state of each product or ingredient.
Click here to read more information on our blueberries.
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