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Blueberries are likely to remain expensive for a while yet

According to EastFruit analysts, on the sidelines of the Global Berry Congress held in the Netherlands on November 28, 2023, the prospects for blueberry pricing were actively discussed, given the unprecedentedly high level of prices in the current season. Let us recall that the main reason for high prices for blueberries was a sharp decline in the production and exports of blueberries from Peru due to unfavorable weather conditions during the flowering of the berry.

According to the majority of congress participants, prices for blueberries will most likely stay high at least until the end of the current season. Moreover, many believe that during the next season it will not be possible to return prices to the level of the 2022/23 season, although in the longer term price trends may return to usual.

Currently, despite the fact that blueberry export volumes from Peru have begun to recover, prices for the berry are not declining because demand remains high. Since blueberry prices are high when they were usually the lowest makes traders believe that they will stay high through the rest of the season. When the first suppliers of fresh blueberries from the Northern Hemisphere, such as Morocco and Spain begin, price realities will be different than in 2023. Thus, growers in Poland, Ukraine and Georgia are also hoping to get good prices for their berries in 2024.

Read also: Georgia imported large volumes of blueberries from Ukraine – what’s wrong with this?

Interestingly, some producers expect that Peru’s blueberry harvest could be relatively weak even in 2024, given long-term trends in average temperatures and the stress experienced by plantations in 2023. If this happens, then there are prospects for maintaining high prices for blueberries for more than a year.

However, Andriy Yarmak, an economist at the Investment Centre of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), believes that it is necessary to pay attention not only to supply, but also to the demand for blueberries. “In my opinion, high prices for blueberries, if they remain at a high level for a long time, in conditions of economic stagnation in many developed countries, can negatively impact the volume of blueberry consumption. And this, in turn, may have a negative impact on prices, compensating the positive news from the supply side” notes Andriy Yarmak.

“It was the rapidly falling prices for blueberries that were the main driver for growth in consumption over the past 10 years as the blueberry industry did not really invest much into promoting consumption. Accordingly, a sharp increase in prices for this berry can become a negative factor in the long term and lead to an even sharper collapse in prices at the time then production growth rates recover to earlier levels. Indeed, in many countries the rate of expansion of blueberry plantations remains high, and high prices can only speed it the process,” explains the FAO expert.

In Ukraine and Georgia, fresh blueberries are becoming an increasingly important export product. In Ukraine in 2023, another large-scale segment of this market appeared – the frozen blueberries. Many producers began to actively sell small or damaged blueberries to freezers, as well as those berries that were rejected during optical sorting. At the same time, the demand for frozen blueberries in the world also continues to grow rapidly, although 2-3 years ago this segment of the frozen produce market practically did not exist anywhere except the USA and Canada.

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