Colombia has been working hard in recent years on its mission to become a world-class blueberry exporter – an effort that is reaching a key phase with the upcoming inaugural exports to key Northern Hemisphere markets.
Andrés Duque of Blueberries Colombia spoke with Fresh Fruit Portal about the work they have been doing, planting expectations and future exports to the U.S.
For the last few years the company has been working with the Biloxi variety in the highlands around the capital Bogotá. Duque described the cultivar as “one that grows exceptionally well, large and with the Brix degrees demanded by the market”.
They plan to begin exporting it later this year to the U.S., Europe and Hong Kong, with between 1,000 and 1,500 metric tons (MT) due to be shipped over a year and a half.
While Duque that blueberries can be produced year-round in Colombia, the company is going to concentrate its efforts between late-August and mid-December to take advantage of the lucrative marketing window.
In the future, he said they will work with different varieties that will allow them to position themselves within the world’s largest consumers and markets, particularly the U.S., Europe, China, Japan, and Korea, among others.
Duque said there are other blueberry projects under development and that “Colombia has initiatives that can easily reach one thousand hectares in the next three years”, but they just need to find the right growers.
He pointed out that the market evaluation of the fruit will be crucial but is optimistic for the future, expecting thousands of hectares to be planted over the next five to 10 years.
By using high-density plantations the expect to eventually achieve yields of 20MT per hectare, as long as all the technology is used to get the most out of the crop, he said.
In the future, they plan to include Eureka, through an alliance with Sabana Blues, and some other varieties in their exports.