Blueberry development in China

06 October 2018

When engaging in conversation about Fresh Produce and particularly blueberries it never takes long before China becomes a topic item. The size of the market and therefore the scale of the opportunity cannot escape anyone. The South Americans in particular are seeing huge increases in volumes of blueberries entering the Chinese market. The average annual consumption of blueberries per capita in China is still a fraction of one single berry. Blueberries are relatively new to China on any scale and for sure, demand is set to increase. With a middle-class population estimated to be larger than the total population of the United States for example, we can see why. As a general trend, the middle class have been the early adopters to blueberry consumption in most territories, China is following that trend.

Traveling in China on blueberry business is fascinating and so are their statistics. In 2017, one report stated that they produced 114905 tonnes of blueberries, mostly from old varieties, of which almost 55% were high chill.

The plantings and indeed the consumption will only increase. What is interesting though is that we know from published data on a daily basis that the value is in more modern and often proprietary varieties that offer improvements in size, flavour, crunch, bloom and often yield too. Looking at the current plantings, they are predominantly of older varieties. There is an expected increase in demand for better blueberry eating experiences within the vast middle-class population. You can we why we at Global Plant Genetics, managing some of the world’s best blueberry programs, are excited by these developments.

Due to the complexity of the Intellectual Property laws, often their understanding and appreciation, these new varieties are likely to enter the market through major grower groups and packing companies. There are examples of this already happening of course.

We are excited by the opportunities China presents for blueberries and we have the varieties that can offer improvements over their current range. Time will tell how we position ourselves in the country commercially, but for sure there are enough people to enjoy eating them in the local market. 

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