In the middle of the Chilean summer, exporters are preparing for the biggest annual event in China — New Year celebrations. It is a time when the consumption of fruit becomes essential for one of the world’s largest markets for blueberries. And Chile knows it.
But, in addition to regularly selling Chilean fruit to the Asian giant, the Chilean Blueberry Committee and the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile, Asoex, have launched a new promotional program with the bluish fruit featuring in Chinese cinemas, not in a movie or advertisement, but as the alternative to popcorn.
The concept, which was dubbed "Blue Pop", is already underway. The initiative combines the growing marketing and positioning of blueberries among the most preferred snacks in China, with the great importance of fruits in the diet of its population.
"We continue to promote consumption in that market highlighting its health benefits and ease of consumption, which makes this fruit an ideal snack for all occasions," Andrés Armstrong, executive director of the Chilean Blueberry Committee, said in an interview.
According to Felipe Juillerat, corporate commercial manager of Hortifrut, the Chilean company that owns 25 percent of the global business, by 2017, 70 percent of Chilean exports of blueberries to the Asian continent were going to China.
Native to Europe and Asia, blueberries were introduced to Chile in the 1980s and since then they have experienced exponential growth in terms of area planted. There are tens of thousands of hectares of this fruit between the cities of Copiapó, north of Santiago, and Puerto Montt in the south, with the majority of the production coming from the Biobío Region.
But, despite being present in the Chilean countryside for more than 30 years, the entry of blueberries from the South American country to China was allowed only in 2012, after more than two years of negotiations and technical studies by Chinese authorities.
The success has been such that last season, between October 2017 and April 2018, exports from Chile to China reached 9,700 tons of fresh blueberries. According to Armstrong, the expectation is that for this season those high volumes will be maintained.
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