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Foreign Production Increases Amoung International Developments 

An emergence of Europe and Mexico as significant producers of blueberries were among developments Cort Brazelton, of Fall Creek Farm and Nursery, highlighted in a presentation at the Oregon Blueberry Conference in January.

“Mexico is now able to produce enough volume in individual weeks throughout the counter-seasonal period that they can actually be an impactful player in the market,” Brazelton said.
“As for Europe, we have seen considerable growth,” he said. “All areas are increasing production throughout Europe.”

In Chile, which along with the Pacific Northwest is the biggest producer of processed blueberries, significant growth has occurred since 2014. Ditto with Peru, which is expected to produce just under 20 million pounds this year.

Also, Brazelton said, South America is exporting more berries to Europe and Asia these days.
“Exports to the U.S. are still critical,” he said. “That is where the majority of their exports go. But there is a huge focus on European and Asian export growth.”

Among roadblocks that could slow South American growth in blueberry production is a projected labor shortage, he said.

“There is a labor issue coming in South America,” he said. “The labor shortage in Chile is an issue and Peru has a shortage of people, as well.”

In Asia, fresh and processed growth continues to expand, Brazelton said, with some exceptions. Production in Japan is stable, for example. Also, while Korean production continues to expand, the country is made up of thousands of small farms and does not have the wherewithal to produce the volume they need domestically.

Overall, Brazelton said, estimates of Asian production came in at just under 85 million pounds in 2016.

“So, all of Asia, with 3 billion people, is producing notably less than Oregon’s crop (of 116 million pounds),” Brazelton said.

Blueberry production in Australia and New Zealand continues to grow, he said, with most of their production staying at home.

Globally, Brazelton said, 651,000 metric tons of blueberries were produced in 2016, or 1.4 billion pounds. That is expected to rise to 1.7 billion pounds by 2019.

As for consumption, Brazelton said most of that occurs in North America, Mexico, Europe and the Asian Pacific.


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