In the U.S., this season’s domestic supply of cultivated blueberries is down from previous seasons after spring frosts hit during bloom in some regions, while rain reduced pollination success in other regions. Imports of cultivated blueberries in 2017 were up about 10 percent from the year prior. Supply from Canada was up around 12 percent and offset a 6 percent decline in blueberry imports from Chile, which were down from 2016’s record 154.2 million pounds. Chile has been expanding its blueberry production and has experienced some logistical hiccups in moving so many berries. For example, Chile’s 2016/17 crop matured earlier than usual, leading to some problems getting timely supplies to port.
Cumulative 2017/18 Chilean blueberry exports were 62,860 MT as of Jan. 8, down over 20 percent from last season to date but more in line with usual crop timing. Exports to the U.S. and Canada accounted for 59 percent of total exports. Weekly exports of organic berries shot up considerably, with supply from expanded plantings in Chile’s southern regions becoming available.
Blueberry imports are now allowed to enter the U.S. through the port at Savannah, Georgia, the fourth U.S. port authorized by USDA for such shipments. As a result, fresh berries from Chile will arrive faster and fresher to southeast markets like Atlanta. Chile provided over 40 percent of the U.S.’s fresh imported blueberries in 2017 and over 20 percent of frozen blueberry imports.
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