The Chilean Blueberry Committee has launched a new system to ensure top fruit quality in a rapidly evolving industry. The Blueberry Committee's Quality System covers five "fundamental pillars". These include correct varietal selection, production, harvest, post-harvest, and final verification that the quality meets the current market requirements.
Andrés Armstrong, Committee executive director said the Chilean industry was seeing a rising number of challenges. "Times are changing and the changes are urgent," he said. One major change has been that Chile now faces increased competition in its production window. "Our industry has been evolving, in varieties, farm management techniques, packaging and post-harvest technologies, amongst others. We are arriving in to more markets and we have greater diversification with our shipments."
There are challenges in all areas, he said, but especially in those related to quality. "We are especially focused on improving the consistency of fruit quality upon arrival," he said.
On the Quality System, Armstrong explained: "We are disincentivizing a significant group of varieties that have over time demonstrated that they don't have good post-harvest life, and on the other hand we see a rise in reconversion to more modern varieties that have better characteristics and can arrive with the required quality. This is good news for Chile."
The launch of the Quality System comes on the Blueberry Committee's 10-year anniversary. Since it was established, the Committee has helped create an organized industry, with representation in a number of important areas. It has also provided key tools for growers and exporters to improve the quality of the fruit in markets. Exports over the last decaed have risen from around 41,000 metric tons (MT) to a record 111,000MT during the 2018-19 season.
For Armstrong, one of the Committee's most important achievements has been the creation of "a spirit of collaboration".This has "allowed actions to be developed both in the area of technical knowledge and in the development of markets", which has benefitted the entire industry.
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"Nowadays, the industry is organized and with representation to defend it in relevant areas," he said.