Blue Dream – Ukraine sets historic blueberry export record • EastFruit

In a remarkable achievement, Ukraine broke records in 2023 by exporting an unprecedented volume of over 4,000 tons of fresh blueberries to international markets. EastFruit. This milestone was particularly surprising given the backdrop of Russia’s ongoing military aggression and the significant logistical challenges faced by Ukrainian exporters, including border blockades by Polish farmers and transporters.

Ukraine’s fast-growing blueberry sector owes its success to the proliferation of young plantations, which have naturally increased average yields and production volumes without the need to expand cultivated areas. “The blueberry sector’s growth trajectory is also fueled by the sector’s increasing appeal to investors, thanks to a strategic approach to business planning and operations. In addition, a dip in domestic demand, prompted by the mass exodus of Ukrainians fleeing the conflict, has played an important role,” notes. Andriy Yarmak, economist at the FAO Investment Department.

Yarmak further notes that last year’s near-ideal weather conditions have laid the foundation for a robust blueberry crop. A fortuitous turn of events towards the end of the season provided an export advantage: a sudden drop in yields in Peru, the world’s largest exporter of blueberries, due to the intense heat during the flowering phase, caused a sharp increase in European blueberry prices – a period usually characterized by a price decline. This anomaly caused a spike in Ukrainian blueberry exports during the atypical months of August and September, resulting in higher prices.

Diversification of export destinations has been a crucial strategy for Ukrainian blueberry sellers, especially as Poland’s reliability as a trading partner has declined. This shift has, in most cases, allowed Ukrainian exporters to command better prices for their products.

Also read: Blueberries from Ukraine: in-depth analyzes of prices, production and export trends in 2023

As a result, Ukrainian blueberry exports to Poland fell by 39% in 2023. Conversely, exports to Germany – a primary market for Polish blueberries – increased by no less than 1,800%. This indicates Ukraine’s growing presence in the German blueberry market, which was previously dominated by Poland.

It is striking that exports to the Netherlands have increased by 37%, and to Spain and other EU countries by more than 300%. Britain, one of the four largest consumer markets, saw imports of Ukrainian blueberries increase by 11%.

In addition, Ukrainian producers have started direct shipments of blueberries to leading supermarket chains in the EU, known for their strict quality standards and consistent demand for supply.

The prospect of repeating the 2023 success remains uncertain as Ukraine grapples with Russia’s continued territorial ambitions and the resulting humanitarian and infrastructural devastation. Labor shortages, exacerbated by the conflict, pose a significant challenge, exacerbated by unpredictable weather patterns that threaten future blueberry yields.

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