China is waiting for Argentine blueberries


Argentina has the opportunity to get to China with quality fruit and excellent flavor, if it is able to overcome logistic challenges and adapt to new consumption trends.

In mid-September, after Chinese inspectors visited the main production areas to verify compliance with the agreed protocol, Federico Bayá, president of the ABC explained that Argentina faces a great challenge, but it also has an important opportunity in the Asian giant. Challenge has to do with logistics, to be able to deliver a quality product. “We have been betting on increasing sea shipments, which gave us the final push to say ‘let’s go for China’ once the market is opened. Transport time via Chile takes 32 days, which is more like the time from the port of Buenos Aires to Europe. We believe Chinese market will be eager to consume Argentine products, and this is the opportunity we have to enhance the flavor of our fruit.

“This has been stated by Dean Li, from Dole China, during the business rounds that took place in the framework of the 9th. Regional Technical Conference on Blueberries organized by APAMA, when highlighting that “Argentine blueberries can meet our requirements because flavor is very good and its sweetness cannot be compared to any other countries (…)”.

Target the Asian market addressing new consumption characteristics
In the same event, Fernando Vilella, Director of the Bio economy Program at the University of Buenos Aires, highlighted 3 trends that exporting companies should take into account: place, where main consumers are, has changed; second, consumption characteristics have changed; third, purchasing mode has changed.  “Predominance of Asia comes back in economic and technological terms. If we look at the last 20 centuries, more than 55% of the GDP was in Asia in 18 of them, and major inventions were generated there. In a short period of time, we will be facing the same situation. “Due to global structural changes, location of the biggest consumers has changed, but also consumers have changed. Current consumers belong to an urban middle class, couples where both work, both hold an university degree, have few children, spend little on food, and they demand ready to eat products. “Forecast for the future shows that this situation will be more strongly established and by 2040, estimates in China show that more than 60% of the food will be in this way. “The question that Vilella asks himself is whether we will be able to supply at least 0.1% of the Chinese population.

Regarding commercial format, supermarkets are disappearing and web-based format is being established much more strongly. A clear example of this fact is the Single´s Day celebrated on November 11. On that day last year, about USD 27 billion were sold in China, out of which 90% was sold via Internet, and 90% through Alibaba platform. “That day, Alibaba sold half of what Argentina exported in that year,” said Vilella. Black Friday, the North American equivalent, sold USD 4 billion, that is to say 6 times less. There are products of Argentine origin that are sought after, but we still need to improve the logistics and transport system and, ultimately, supply to these markets. “On the other hand, new consumers, apart from buying online, pay in an electronic manner, “cell phones are used to pay in China more than in the whole Western world together.” It has to do with an informed consumer who also wants a product that is produced in a sustainable way and internationally certified by an institution.

Blueberry is a product that meets several requirements and adapts to these opportunities. “It is a fresh product that can be consumed in different ways, it is relatively expensive, and therefore online shopping makes sense.”