During the Global Berry Congress in the Netherlands on November 28, 2023, experts engaged in active discussions regarding the future pricing of blueberries. The current season has witnessed unprecedentedly high prices, primarily attributed to a significant reduction in blueberry production and exports from Peru due to unfavorable weather conditions during the berry’s flowering period.
The prevailing consensus among congress participants is that blueberry prices are likely to remain elevated until the conclusion of the ongoing season. Many anticipate that even in the subsequent season, prices may not revert to the levels seen in the 2022/23 season. However, there is optimism that in the longer term, pricing trends may normalize.
Despite the recovery in blueberry export volumes from Peru, prices are not decreasing due to sustained high demand. This unusual situation, where blueberry prices are high during a period when they traditionally are lower, leads traders to believe that the elevated prices will persist throughout the season. The entry of fresh blueberry suppliers from the Northern Hemisphere, such as Morocco and Spain, is expected to influence pricing dynamics in 2024. Consequently, growers in Poland, Ukraine, and Georgia are hopeful of securing favorable prices for their berries in the upcoming year.
Notably, some producers express concerns about the potential weakness in Peru’s blueberry harvest in 2024, influenced by long-term temperature trends and stress experienced by plantations in 2023. If this scenario unfolds, there is a possibility of maintaining high blueberry prices for an extended period.
However, Andriy Yarmak, an economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Investment Centre, emphasizes the importance of considering both supply and demand factors. Yarmak suggests that prolonged high prices for blueberries, amid economic stagnation in many developed countries, could negatively impact blueberry consumption. Such a decline in consumption may, in turn, have an adverse effect on prices, offsetting the positive news from the supply side.
Yarmak further highlights that the rapid decline in blueberry prices over the past decade was a key driver of increased consumption. Therefore, a sharp and prolonged increase in prices could have long-term negative consequences and lead to a more significant price collapse when production growth rates return to previous levels.
In 2023, Ukraine and Georgia have witnessed the growing importance of fresh blueberries as an export product. Additionally, a new segment in the market has emerged with the introduction of frozen blueberries. Producers are actively selling small or damaged berries to freezers, and the global demand for frozen blueberries has been rapidly increasing, marking a notable shift in this market segment over the past 2-3 years.