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Chile’s Main Market for Frozen Blueberries is North America

Chile’s fresh blueberry exports fell 18% in the 2022-23 season, marking the second consecutive decline since the 2020-21 season’s record volume of 117,640 tons. It was a complex season for Chilean supply, competing against fresh blueberry volumes from Peru which grew by 30%, reaching 284,000 tons.

However, Chile keeps leading global exports of frozen blueberries in 2023, both conventional and organic. 

Camila Miranda, analyst and project manager of Blueberry Yearbook, IQonsulting explains that in 2022, Chile exported 51,957 tons, which corresponds to 74% of all exports from the southern hemisphere and Mexico. In addition, Chile grew by 7% compared to 2021.

Frozen blueberry exports registered in 2022, combining Chile, Peru, Argentina and Mexico, reached 69,754 tons, a 2% decrease year-on-year. This was due to Peru’s 6% decrease, Argentina’s drop of 74%, and Mexico’s 35% annual decline.

Unlike fresh blueberry exports, Peru has not excelled in their frozen blueberry industry. It currently has a 22% share in frozen, with 15,000  tons exported during 2022, says analyst Miranda.

Chile’s main market for frozen blueberries is North America with 47% of the share, followed by Oceania with 17%. Fifteen percent of the fruit was sent to Europe and 15% to the Far East, and 3% to Latin America.

In relation to Chile’s  51,955 tons exported, 25% were of conventional fruit while 75% were organic blueberries. This corresponds to 13,000 tons and 38,000 tons respectively.

The peak of Chilean exports occurs between February and August. As for FOB prices of organic frozen blueberries, in March 2023 they reached US$1.83 per pound, and conventional blueberries US$ 1.31 per pound.

Global blueberry production has grown significantly in recent years, with increasing consumption mainly led by its beneficial health properties. This has also led to diversification with fresh and frozen blueberries.

Marin Plumb, a food science specialist at South Dakota State University, found that frozen blueberries are as nutritious as fresh blueberries, even after six months of freezing. 

In his experiment he looked at antioxidant levels in one-, three-,  and five-month frozen blueberries. Compared to the antioxidant content of fresh, he found no decrease in the nutritional value of frozen.; Freezing even increases the concentration of anthocyanin (antioxidant flavonoids that prevent the production of free radicals).

In retail, demand has increased, not only for its contribution to health, but uses such as smoothies, cocktails, and pastries.

Source : Fresh Fruit Portal