Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
Blueberries continue to be popular around the world, a trend that could benefit Australian growers. Consistent Quality is the New Blue, a recent Rabobank analysis, presents a rosy picture of the worldwide blueberry business, projecting that fresh blueberry exports would continue to grow gradually over the next few years as growing places spread around the world. Companies are being pressured to be more productive and efficient, as well as to consistently offer high-quality produce, according to the report. Improved cultivars will play a bigger role in the future across all growing regions.
Global high bush blueberry planted area topped 205,000 hectares in 2020, according to Rabobank, and production is likely to expand steadily in the next years. The majority of the planted area is still in the Americas, although the Asia-Pacific region is rapidly expanding. North America, the blueberry industry’s cradle, remains a viable blueberry-growing location, but production shares are shifting, with South America fast expanding and new growing regions emerging in Europe, Africa, and Asia, according to the report. According to Rabobank fresh produce senior analyst David Magaa, global shipments would reach close to 900,000 metric tonnes in 2025/26, with more than 70% coming from the top five exporting countries: Peru, Chile, Canada, Mexico, and Spain/Morocco.
Chile and Peru, according to South American Rabobank fresh produce senior analyst Gonzalo Salinas, enjoy excellent market access, with tariff-free access to China, Europe, and the United States. He stated, “These countries are well-positioned to gain from rising global demand.” Despite the fact that Australia is not mentioned in the report, it is still a baby in terms of production and exports. According to the 2019/20 Australian Horticulture Statistics Handbook, Australia produced 20,783 tonnes of blueberries worth $389.6 million in the year ending June 2020. Fresh supply had a wholesale value of $497.4 million, with $427 million going to retail and $70.4 million going to food service.
In terms of world consumption, Rabobank said the US and Canada combined still absorb the highest blueberry volume, but Europe is now the main source of demand growth. In the same way, China is leading blueberry consumption in Asia thanks to the growth of its local and imported supply. On the home front, figures show 56pc of Australian households purchased fresh blueberries, buying an average of 136g per shopping trip.