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Industry News | 4 min read
June 12, 2023
June 12, 2023

Chile seeks to boost its blueberry industry with new varieties.

For the Chilean agricultural industry to maintain its position as one of the world’s leading blueberry producers and exporters, it is essential for it to develop new varieties.

The effects of climate change and changing consumer demand are driving the South American country to grow its presence on the global market.

Why adopt new blueberry varieties?

Creating new blueberry varieties brings numerous benefits, including quality and productivity improvements. In addition, these new varieties provide a valuable opportunity to diversify export options in the global market, which is eager for larger, better-tasting and better-looking fruit.

Climate change is another crucial factor driving the development of new varieties. Last February, Chile suffered severe fires that caused significant damage to large farming areas, including blueberry fields. These fires were a direct consequence of droughts caused by climate change.

To ensure greater production stability, there is a need for varieties that are resistant to the effects of climate change and adaptable to extreme weather events.  

Main blueberry varieties in Chile

In Chile, there are several popular varieties, including Biloxi, Duke, Legacy, Blue Ribbon, Suziblue, Cargo, Top Shelf, Emerald, Brigitta, Elliot and Aurora. The first three are the oldest and have been grown for a long time in the country, but in 2021, Duke and Suziblue were the most sold.

Despite growing high-quality blueberries, Chile has launched a project to validate new types to expand production and improve flavor. 

Many varieties are patented by the same companies, such as Suzieblue, Top Shelf and Peachy Blue, a new line gaining momentum in the Chilean sector. Other new popular varieties include Luna Blue, Arabela Blue, Loreto Blue and Olympus Blue.

Competition with Peru and Mexico

Chile faces intense competition in the global blueberry market from Peru, the world’s largest exporter, and Mexico, which has consolidated a strong position in the sector. 

Like Chile, these countries have favorable climatic conditions for blueberry cultivation, which allows them to offer quality products. However, Chile has experienced a decrease in its share of world supply, while Peru has seen steady growth in its production. 

In response, the Chilean blueberry industry has made significant investments in research and development, focusing on improving the quality of its fruit to meet growing international demand. Meanwhile, Peru and Mexico have focused on increasing their production capacity.

The United States is the largest importer for all three countries, and they ship their highest volume during the US low season. 

This strategy allows them to maintain a strong presence in the market. However, Chile also has an opportunity to expand into the Chinese market, which has shown a particular interest in the quality of its blueberries. 

In Peru, there has been a recent trend toward using the Sekoya Pop variety. However, Biloxi has been the predominant variety for the last six years, closely followed by Ventura. The introduction of Sekoya Pop and Sekoya Beauty has created great interest due to their high productivity and quality.

Key factors in varietal change in Chile

Introducing new blueberry varieties requires improved pest and disease management because problems that were not common in the previous strains may emerge in the new ones. 

That’s why it is critical to establish integrated control strategies and conduct continuous monitoring to prevent and control any outbreaks that may affect blueberry production.

In addition, training and knowledge transfer play a crucial role in adopting new varieties. Growers need to be informed about new varieties’ characteristics, benefits and specific requirements. Training programs and technical advice are key elements to maximize the potential of these varieties and ensure their success in the field.

Sources: RedAgrícola, International Blueberry, Blueberries Consulting, Portal Frutícola