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Mexican Blueberry Acreage & Production on the Rise

Mexico’s 2024 blueberry production is forecast at 81,000 MT, an eight percent increase over 2023 on sufficient water access and growing export demand. The rate of production growth is projected to be slower in 2024 compared to 2023 due to competition from Peru. Production in 2023 reached an estimated 74,800 MT, a twelve percent increase over the previous year due to production innovations and strong export demand. Blueberry exports totaled 71,509 MT in 2022, down about two percent compared to 2021. Imports reached 13,715 MT in 2022, a ten percent decrease from the previous year. The United States is Mexico’s top blueberry export market, with a nearly 97 percent share.

Executive Summary

Mexico’s blueberry sector has seen rapid growth in the past decade, with increasing prices encouraging growers to expand production or switch from other crops to blueberries. Production grew over 80 percent between 2017 and 2022, reaching 66,847 metric tons (MT), making Mexico the world’s fifth largest blueberry producer.

Mexico’s per capita blueberry consumption is barely 70 grams per year, constrained by price as well as consumer preference, with blueberries not occupying a place in traditional Mexican cuisine.

In 2022, Mexico’s total blueberry exports totaled 71,509 MT, down about two percent compared to 2021. By value, blueberry exports totaled USD 629 million in 2022. Imports reached 13,715 MT in 2022, a ten percent decrease from the previous year. While both import and export volumes decreased in 2022 compared to 2021, rising blueberry prices pushed up trade value, with both imports and exports increasing about seven percent by value from 2021 to 2022.

The United States is Mexico’s top blueberry export market, with a nearly 97 percent share, valued at USD 607 million. Other export destinations include the Netherlands, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The U.S. is also Mexico’s number one blueberry supplier.

Production

Mexico’s calendar year (CY) 2024 blueberry production is forecast at 81,000 MT, an eight percent increase from forecast 2023 production based on expected adequate access to water and growing demand from international markets, predominantly the United States. Despite drought conditions throughout Mexico, local producers report that the berry sector will avoid the impact of water shortages in the near term (1-3 years). The sector is well-equipped with highly efficient irrigation systems, including private reservoirs, and ample operating funds.

Production growth is projected to remain strong in 2024, although not as as robust as in 2023 due to a shortened growing and harvest season. Historically, Mexico’s harvest began in early October, peaking between late April and early May. In contrast, industry sources report that for the 2024 harvest, producers have taken steps to delay the start of the harvest to early February in response to competition from Peru, which offers a similar product at lower prices during the October-January period. Faced with this competition, Mexican growers have shifted the growing season by delaying new plantings, which is projected to dampen overall prodution given the relatively significant place of new plantings in total planted area, with the sector currently undergoing a transition from Biloxi to proprietary varieties. Producers are actively switching away from the Biloxi variety to take advantage of the ongoing development of improved varieties that provide higher yields and better taste. According to farmer contacts, 23 percent of blueberry area is currently planted with the Biloxi variety and 74 percent is planted with proprietary varieties, and they expect the share of Biloxi to decrease significantly in the near term. In addition to delaying new plantings, Mexican producers report that they are delaying fertilizer applications as another technique to push the harvest beyone the Peruvian harvest period.

Blueberry production in 2023 reached an estimated 74,800 MT, a twelve percent increase over the previous year due to the use of improved varieties and other innovative production technology as well as strong export demand.

According to data from Mexico’s Agri-food and Fisheries Information Service (SIAP), blueberry production totaled 66,847 MT in 2022. Beginning in 2023, SIAP stopped reporting official blueberry data, for reasons that are not publicly available.

Mexico’s blueberry sector has been growing steadily in recent years, realizing a production growth of over 80 percent between 2017 and 2022. During this period blueberry planted area grew from 3,642 hectares (ha) to 4,444 ha, a 22 percent increase. Mexican blueberry exporters benefit from geographical proximity to the United States, with shipments reaching the U.S.-Mexico border in 18 hours or less. Berries are shipped to the U.S. market by truck daily. In addition, Mexico is able to provide blueberries during the off-season periods for other major producing countries, particularly the United States. Further, producers benefit from sustained investment to take advantage of growing export opportunities. Access to improved infrastructure and production methods enables growers to achieve greater yields and protect their crops against risks from pests, extreme weather, and other climate impacts. Read the full report from USDA Foreign Ag Service HERE.

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