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Transition from USA to South America underway

Blueberries as a commodity are going strong

Michigan’s blueberries are finished for the season with the last of Naturipe’s fruit shipped on October 4. “Demand exceeded supply in Michigan for the majority of the season,” said Jim Roberts of Naturipe Farms. When it’s at its absolute peak (the beginning of July) there was a lot of production from other states including Michigan, making plenty of supply to go around, though Roberts said it didn’t take long for the state to become demands-exceeds because the Northwest in particular was running early this year. “For the majority of the season in Michigan we had very strong demand for fruit,” he said. The last six weeks of the season became demand-exceeds. Prices finished strong for the state. Roberts’ commented the challenge the state faced was drought before the season started to supply adequate irrigation as crop ripened, then when harvest started we were getting constant rains and as such less volume went to the fresh market. “Michigan will likely fall short of its preseason estimate but still a much stronger crop than last year.”

Domestic production is done (some still coming out of Oregon) but Roberts has strong supply coming in from Peru and Argentina is starting to pick up. “We’ve got a little bit of volume arriving from Chile and Mexico as well.” Roberts says through newly planted acreage in Peru they’ve been able to gain some good market share and that these are typically the highest priced weeks (wk38-42) of the year because US production is done and imports haven’t really started flowing in full volume yet.

Peru has proven itself a good place for growing blueberries. Roberts indicates its consistent year-round sunlight has crops growing quickly. When blueberries planted in the USA can take anywhere from three years to up to seven years to produce good crop, depending on where they’re located, it has only taken about six to nine months to get blueberry crops in Peru. “It’s fitting a gap where the USA is declining in production and most of South America hasn’t yet started up,” he said. “We’re seeing very good production coming off that acreage. For us we’ve got a fair amount of fruit and more volume than we typically have this time of year but that’s not necessarily true of the industry. The rest of the industry will start peaking within the next 2 weeks as Argentina starts coming on. The new varieties and the flavour profile they deliver to the consumer I think is going to go further and drive additional consumption. We’re pretty excited.”

For more information:

Jim Roberts
Naturipe Farms LLC
Ph: (239) 598-6047
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