Blueberries in the European Union

March 2016

Market Access Secretariat
Global Analysis Report

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Contents

Executive Summary

The market for fresh blueberries in the European Union (EU) is demonstrating strong growth in terms of imported products over the last five years experiencing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.5% from 2010-14. Alongside rising disposable incomes and health consciousness, the appeal of fresh blueberries is quickly gaining ground.

In 2014, the EU imported US$285.3 million of fresh blueberries from the world, which was US$152.6 million more than the value recorded in 2010, representing significant growth. Although fresh blueberry imports are on the rise and gaining market share, frozen blueberries still accounted for over 60% of total EU blueberry imports from the world with a value of US$431.5 million.

Inter-EU trade of fresh and frozen blueberries in 2014 were US$400.9 million and US$836.7 million, respectively. Both fresh and frozen blueberries experience an increase in growth from 2010-14 with CAGR's of 20.4% and 6.9%, respectively.

Canada was the eight-largest non-EU supplier of fresh blueberries with imports valued at US$2.6 million and the largest non-EU supplier of frozen blueberries with imports valued at US$68.6 million to the EU in 2014.

The European market saw the launch of 4,315 new products containing blueberries within the 2011-2014 calendar years. An additional 682 products with blueberries have already been launched within the first eight months of 2015 across multiple product categories.

The EU has a number of product specification standards for quality, packaging and labelling that need to be met prior to importing fresh or frozen blueberries into the country.

Trade Overview

European Union Performance

External European Union Trade

The European Union (EU) is the second-largest importer, after the United States (U.S), of fresh blueberries in the world. Their imports of fresh blueberries have seen steady growth over the last five years reaching a value of US$282.3 million in 2014. EU imports of fresh blueberries increased by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.5% from 2010-14. In 2014, EU imports of fresh blueberries came from only 30 countries signifying a very concentrated pool of suppliers. The top non-EU supplier countries in 2014 were Chile with US$134.2 million or 47.5% of the market share, followed by Argentina with US$54.8 million (19.4%), and Morocco with US$38.4 million (13.6%). Canada ranked as the EU's eight-largest supplier of fresh blueberries with US$2.6 million or 0.9% market share (Global Trade Atlas, 2015).

EU Imports of Fresh Blueberries from Top Ten Non-EU Supplying Countries, US$ Millions
Rank Country 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 CAGR % 2010-14
EU Total Fresh Blueberries 129.67 166.74 188.09 206.88 282.30 21.47
1 Chile 51.62 62.68 82.61 96.00 134.18 26.98
2 Argentina 39.05 46.96 48.53 39.67 54.84 8.86
3 Morocco 9.53 15.66 20.02 24.28 38.46 41.76
4 South Africa 6.11 8.53 10.20 13.75 18.42 31.75
5 Peru 0.03 0.07 0.51 6.18 12.39 351.85
6 Uruguay 10.10 11.44 10.65 10.66 10.00 −0.25
7 United States 5.84 5.57 6.46 7.09 4.73 −5.13
8 Canada 0.89 3.57 1.55 2.40 2.63 31.27
9 Mexico 0.08 0.03 1.02 0.86 2.19 127.03
10 Macedonia 0.55 0.41 0.17 0.52 1.10 18.80
Source: Global Trade Atlas, 2015
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
Note: For the purposes of this report, the following HS code was used to define “fresh blueberries:” 081040. This includes fresh cranberries as EU import data does not distinguish blueberries from cranberries.

In terms of imports of frozen fruit and nuts, which include blueberries, the EU was again the second-largest importer in the world with $431.5 million, edged out slightly by the U.S. for the top spot. Their supplier list is diversified with imports coming from 68 countries. The EU's imports of frozen fruit and nuts have experienced some fluctuation since 2011 where they peaked at over US$553.6 million. However, since then, there has been a constant decline in imports which saw a decrease of 11.6% in 2014 over 2013 falling to just over US$431.4 million. Although the EU is experiencing a decline in their imports of frozen fruit and nuts, Canada is still their top supplier and has been since 2011, with imports of US$68.6 million or a market share of 15.9% in 2014. Other top non-EU suppliers of frozen fruit and nuts were Serbia in second with imports valued at US$63.2 million, followed by Ukraine (US$50.2 million), China ($35.6 million), and Chile (US$21.9 million). In 2014, the top five non-EU suppliers combined accounted for over 55% of the available market share (Global Trade Atlas, 2015).

EU Imports of Frozen Blueberries from Top Ten Non-EU Supplying Countries, US$ Millions
Rank Country 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 CAGR % 2010-14
EU Total Frozen Blueberries 382.30 553.59 492.92 488.23 431.46 3.07
1 Canada 51.87 87.80 94.55 81.50 68.59 7.23
2 Serbia 60.37 82.99 71.89 77.87 63.18 1.15
3 Ukraine 52.34 67.38 51.30 46.01 50.20 −1.04
4 China 41.41 46.54 42.86 51.67 35.57 −3.73
5 Chile 9.80 20.24 21.14 24.57 21.91 22.28
6 Russia 10.61 35.70 23.86 17.32 21.20 18.90
7 Peru 10.33 13.54 17.73 14.68 17.40 13.92
8 Turkey 23.89 23.50 26.81 20.89 15.36 −10.46
9 India 7.37 10.64 11.02 11.89 14.14 17.71
10 Israel 7.56 6.59 9.39 11.38 14.12 16.92
Source: Global Trade Atlas, 2015
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
Note: For the purposes of this report, the following HS code was used to define “frozen blueberries:” 081190. This includes all frozen fruit as EU import data does not distinguish blueberries from other fruits.

Inter-European Union Trade

This section will focus on inter-European Union (EU) trade for fresh and frozen blueberries. It is important to note that the numbers in this section have the possibility of over representing the industry due to imports being double counted. This can occur when a product is imported into a hub country— who initially records the imports— then the hub country send the product to another country who then also records the product as an import.

In 2014, inter-EU trade for fresh blueberries was valued at just over US$400.0 million which was an increase of almost US$150.0 million over 2013 alone. Over the 2010-14 period fresh blueberries grew by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.4%. The top three inter-EU importing countries were the United Kingdom with 20.8% of total imports, followed by Germany with 17.2%, and the Netherlands with 13.7%. These three countries combined accounted for 51.8% of all inter-EU trade imports (Global Trade Atlas, 2015).

EU Imports of Fresh Blueberries from Top Ten Inter-EU Supplying Countries, US$ Millions
Rank Country 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 CAGR % 2010-14
Total Fresh Blueberries 191.01 258.11 290.61 354.85 400.92 20.37
1 United Kingdom 60.26 85.57 96.30 90.01 83.47 8.48
2 Germany 26.04 40.68 41.88 62.99 68.97 27.57
3 Netherlands 17.25 23.93 23.95 25.80 55.09 33.69
4 Italy 11.98 16.63 16.21 17.79 18.88 12.04
5 Lithuania 2.70 6.49 10.08 16.54 14.80 53.01
6 Belgium 6.65 8.70 11.60 15.43 19.07 30.15
7 France 6.30 9.91 10.49 14.70 15.82 25.90
8 Denmark 11.58 13.70 15.90 14.12 17.77 11.31
9 Sweden 5.88 9.24 10.67 11.71 15.88 28.20
10 Austria 4.30 5.36 4.20 10.41 7.34 14.32
Source: Global Trade Atlas, 2015
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
Note: For the purposes of this report, the following HS code was used to define “fresh blueberries:” 081040. This includes fresh cranberries as EU import data does not distinguish blueberries from cranberries.

Inter-EU trade of frozen blueberries was over double that of fresh blueberries each year from 2010-14, although frozen blueberries experienced a decline in imports of US$38.2 million from 2013-14. This decline could be a result of the increasing consumption trend towards fresh blueberries happening in the EU. The top three inter-EU importing countries in 2014 were Germany with 19.8% of total imports, followed by France with 13.1%, and Italy with 6.3%. In addition, the top five inter-EU countries combined accounted for over 50% of the total market (Global Trade Atlas, 2015).

EU Imports of Frozen Blueberries from Top Ten Inter-EU Supplying Countries, US$ Millions
Rank Country 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 CAGR % 2010-14
EU Total Frozen Blueberries 641.61 805.57 911.06 874.92 836.70 6.86
1 Germany 139.58 171.17 183.65 176.01 165.33 4.32
2 France 79.26 82.21 89.78 107.67 109.95 8.53
3 Italy 32.34 48.06 46.92 48.49 52.90 13.09
4 Belgium 38.31 50.26 57.04 56.34 51.26 7.55
5 Netherlands 42.00 55.20 58.25 47.40 40.99 −0.61
6 Sweden 33.12 39.59 38.77 41.18 35.06 1.43
7 United Kingdom 34.78 35.63 38.53 39.67 39.62 3.31
8 Austria 32.14 39.68 34.72 38.46 33.22 0.83
9 Poland 18.87 28.97 30.78 27.30 32.08 14.19
10 Finland 9.85 23.50 28.18 24.70 14.10 9.38
Source: Global Trade Atlas, 2015
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
Note: For the purposes of this report, the following HS code was used to define “frozen blueberries:” 081190. This includes all frozen fruit as EU import data does not distinguish blueberries from other fruits.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAOSTAT), in 2013 the European Union's (EU) production quantity for blueberries was 52,276 tonnes, while they imported over 263,000 tonnes of blueberries and exporting 85,460 tonnes in 2013 (Global Trade Atlas, 2015). This means that, in 2013, the EU consumed roughly 229,830 tonnes of blueberries. The top five EU blueberry producing countries in 2013 were Poland with 12,731 tonnes, followed by Germany (10,277 tonnes), France (9,011 tonnes), the Netherlands (5,498 tonnes), and Spain (5,000 tonnes). These five countries combined accounted for over 81% of the EU's blueberry production (FAOSTAT, 2015). However, these countries are not producing enough blueberries to fully meet the demands of EU consumers, resulting in an increasing demand for imports from external EU countries.

Canadian Performance

This section will focus on Canada's exports of fresh and frozen blueberries to the EU as Canadian export data records export values specifically for blueberries. As there are two different reporting sources used to gather EU imports (Eurostat) and Canada's (Stats Canada) exports there will be differences in values.

In 2014, Canada exported US$343.3 million worth of fresh and frozen blueberries to the world, with 68.2% going to the United States. The European Union (EU) was Canada's second-largest export destination, albeit with a significantly smaller proportion, receiving just 17.1% or US$58.8 million of fresh and frozen blueberries exports, followed by Japan (7.9%). The top three EU countries that Canada exported fresh and frozen blueberries to were Germany which received US$23.7 million, the Netherlands (US$12.8 million), and France (US$8.3 million) (Global Trade Atlas, 2015).

The majority (98.9%) of blueberries exports to the EU from Canada were of the frozen variety. Canadian frozen blueberry exports to the EU have experienced some wide fluctuations over the last few years, but still managed to have a compound annual growth rate of 3.8% from 2010-14 (Global Trade Atlas, 2015).

Canadian Exports of Fresh or Frozen Blueberries to the EU, US$ Millions
HS Code Description 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 % CAGR 2012-14
Total Fresh and Frozen Blueberries 51.63 88.75 87.27 59.67 58.81 3.31
Total Fresh Blueberries 0.99 2.53 0.30 1.63 0.02 −63.38
08104012 Fresh cultivated (highbush) blueberries 0.10 1.23 0.19 0.04 0.02 −36.07
08104011  Fresh wild (lowbush) blueberries 0.89 1.29 0.11 1.60 0.00 −86.06
Total Frozen Blueberries 50.64 86.23 86.97 58.03 58.79 3.80
08119012 Frozen cultivated (highbush) blueberries 4.34 5.73 5.64 4.39 0.63 −38.25
08119011 Frozen wild (lowbush) blueberries 46.31 80.50 81.33 53.65 58.16 5.86
Source: Global Trade Atlas, 2015
Canadian Exports of Fresh or Frozen Blueberries - Top Five EU Destination Countries, US$ Millions
Country 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 CAGR % 2010-14
EU Combined Total 51.63 88.75 87.27 59.67 58.81 3.31
Germany 20.38 33.10 33.07 23.94 23.67 3.82
Netherlands 10.75 21.14 18.05 10.78 12.83 4.52
United Kingdom 5.88 12.36 11.94 10.86 8.31 9.05
France 5.12 7.95 13.04 6.07 6.28 5.26
Belgium 5.94 7.03 5.37 3.97 4.14 −8.66
Source: Global Trade Atlas, 2015

An important factor that will positively impact Canadian blueberry exporters' competitiveness is the EU is the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) which was concluded in August 2014. Once CETA enters into force, (fresh/dried/sweetened/frozen) berries will see a 3.2% reduction in tariffs and will become duty-free. For more information on CETA, please visit the following website: Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

Blueberries in the European Union

Blueberries in particular are native to North America and were only introduced into Europe in the 19th century (Bangor Daily News Maine, 2014). Blueberries can be categorized into one of two varieties: wild (lowbush) or cultivated (highbush). The wild (lowbush) blueberry is one of just three commercially grown fruit crops native to North America; the others being cranberries and Concord (American) grapes (Bangor Daily News Maine, 2014).

Canada is one of the world's largest producers of wild (lowbush) blueberries, which are mainly used for processing and freezing, and is also a producer of cultivated (highbush) blueberries, which are usually sold fresh because they are less perishable then their counterpart (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2011). According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAOSTAT), in 2013 the top three producing countries of blueberries were the United States (239,071 tonnes), followed by Canada (109,007 tonnes) and the European Union (52,276 tonnes).

Wild (lowbush) blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity per serving out of any widely available cultivated fruits. United States Drug Administration (USDA) researchers found that a one-cup serving of wild blueberries (85 calories) had more total antioxidant capacity than a serving of cranberries, strawberries, plums, raspberries and even cultivated high bush blueberries (Bangor Daily News Maine, 2014).

Blueberries are known as a “superfruit” because they possess certain characteristics that make them superior to other types of fruits such as strawberries and raspberries. These characteristics include a long shelf life, convenient, durable because they are not “squish prone” like strawberries and raspberries, along with only needing minimal preparation—only washed—prior to consumption. Although blueberries have achieved “superfruit” status, the price factor is stopping consumers from considering them as an everyday fruit snack and they are only being viewed as a “treat”. This consumer view is expected to reverse once blueberry production ramps up sufficiently to meet demand (Euromonitor International, 2014).

In terms of the EU, experts are predicting that demand and consumption of blueberries will see a significant increase over the coming years as consumers begin to see the health benefits and improvements in the quality and taste of blueberries (EUROFRUIT, 2014). The appeal of blueberries to health-conscious consumers is tied to their extremely rich antioxidants properties, low calorie intake, high in fibre and nutrient content, and that blueberries may contribute to heart health since they appear to act as an anti-inflammatory and may also reduce blood cholesterol levels (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2011). A trend in the EU also affecting demand, in particular in the United Kingdom (UK) is the switch from blueberries being seen as seasonal to being viewed as a year-round fruit (EUROFRUIT, 2014). Euromonitor is predicting that fresh blueberry consumption in Western Europe is going to increase by a further 25% between 2015 and 2019, resulting in an increasing demand (Euromonitor International, 2014).

According to Euromonitor, in 2014, blueberries delivered double-digit volume growth in a number of Western European markets, including Switzerland, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland. In order to meet European demands for blueberries, imports from opposite hemispheres are needed to keep a stable supply throughout the year (Euromonitor International, 2014).

Of all the EU countries, the UK, despite already having a considerable blueberry market (the 10th-largest globally), is expected to grow in volume by 76% through 2018. This substantial growth will be driven by the UK consumers' high level of openness to the “superfruit” message and the all-important factor of convenience. While the UK's volume consumption of blueberries continues to grow, there are a number of EU countries, such as Spain, France and Italy, whose volume sales are still on the low side (Euromonitor International, 2014). Canadian exporters could potentially take advantage of this by increasing their exports to these countries.

New Product Analysis

According to the Mintel Global New Products Database, there were 4,997 new food and drink product launches in the European Union market containing blueberries between January 2011 and August 2015.

Germany, France and the United Kingdom were the most popular countries for products to be launched in over the January 2011 to August 2015 period and saw 45.5% of the total launches. Almost half (44.7%) of the launches were completely new products and 38.2% were new varieties or range extensions. The most commonly used claim was “no additives or preservatives,” which appeared on 22% of the total launches, followed by “organic” with 15.8% and “ethical – environmentally friendly packaging” with 15.2%.

Approximately 13% of the total launches were in the spoonable yogurt product subcategory and 7.3% were confiture and fruit spreads. Over half of the product launches fell within the US$0.12-US$4.38 price range.

Number of New Product Launches Containing blueberries in the EU (Total launches), by Year
Launches 2011 2012 2013 2014 August 2015
Total launches 1,099 1,285 1,017 914 682
Note: EU includes all but the following countries Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, and Slovenia because data is not collect from these countries.
Note: The features analyzed above were ranked based on 2014 data.
Number of New Product Launches Containing blueberries in the EU (Top 5 countries), by Year
Country 2011 2012 2013 2014 August 2015
Germany 174 221 177 157 134
France 82 126 113 119 84
United Kingdom 184 322 168 102 107
Italy 101 97 86 60 65
Poland 51 38 45 60 23
Note: EU includes all but the following countries Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, and Slovenia because data is not collect from these countries.
Note: The features analyzed above were ranked based on 2014 data.
Number of New Product Launches Containing blueberries in the EU (Top 3 launch type), by Year
Launch Type 2011 2012 2013 2014 August 2015
New variety/range extension 385 483 375 389 275
New product 586 588 438 348 274
New packaging 91 184 132 132 90
Note: EU includes all but the following countries Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, and Slovenia because data is not collect from these countries.
Note: The features analyzed above were ranked based on 2014 data.
Number of New Product Launches Containing blueberries in the EU (Top 5 claims), by Year
Claim 2011 2012 2013 2014 August 2015
No additives/preservatives 279 257 237 188 140
Ethical: environmentally friendly packaging 154 146 168 166 124
Organic 203 157 147 148 136
Low/no/reduced allergen 133 133 130 123 107
Gluten-free 104 73 102 96 86
Note: EU includes all but the following countries Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, and Slovenia because data is not collect from these countries.
Note: The features analyzed above were ranked based on 2014 data.
Number of New Product Launches Containing blueberries in the EU (Top 5 subcategories), by Year
Subcategory 2011 2012 2013 2014 August 2015
Spoonable yogurt 150 148 132 122 80
Tea 61 19 61 56 32
Juice 51 56 38 54 40
Confiture and fruit spreads 110 119 59 47 31
Dairy-based frozen products 53 33 46 40 37
Note: EU includes all but the following countries Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, and Slovenia because data is not collect from these countries. N
ote: The features analyzed above were ranked based on 2014 data.
Number of New Product Launches Containing blueberries in the EU (Top 5 companies), by Year
Company 2011 2012 2013 2014 August 2015
Lidl 15 30 34 41 21
Danone 32 35 28 23 14
Marks & Spencer 4 23 17 23 12
Nestlé 12 19 11 17 10
Unilever 14 13 27 16 10
Note: EU includes all but the following countries Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, and Slovenia because data is not collect from these countries.
Note: The features analyzed above were ranked based on 2014 data.
Number of New Product Launches Containing blueberries in the EU (Price range in US dollars), by Year
Price Range 2011 2012 2013 2014 August 2015
$0.15 - $2.26 167 238 361 348 256
$2.27 - $4.38 240 254 305 322 227
$4.39 - $6.50 66 81 113 141 97
Note: EU includes all but the following countries Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, and Slovenia because data is not collect from these countries.
Note: The features analyzed above were ranked based on 2014 data.

New Product Examples, 2015

Source: Mintel, 2015

Standards

Prior to exporting blueberries to the European Union (EU), exporters should consult the following resources:

Quality

The quality of blueberries being exported to the EU, at a bare minimum, should be uniform in colour, have similar varietal characteristics, be clean and free of vegetable material and have practically no unripe berries. Fresh blueberry imports, in the EU, must comply with the marketing or equivalent standards (Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries - CBI, 2013). Please consult the below links for further information on the acceptable quality for blueberry exports to the EU:

Packaging

When packaging their product for export to the EU, exporters need to ensure that the packaging will protect the blueberries from contamination, leakage, and dehydration (CBI, 2013). Consult the below link for further packaging specifications:

Labelling

Consumer package labelling must comply with the rules and regulations applied in the EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) market. A label cannot contain any toxic ink or glue and the following items should be on the label of (pre-packed) fresh fruits (CBI, 2013 and Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011):

Consult the following links, for more detailed information on labelling requirements in the EU:

For More Information

International Trade Commissioners can provide Canadian industry with on-the-ground expertise regarding market potential, current conditions and local business contacts, and are an excellent point of contact for export advice.

For additional intelligence on this and other markets, the complete library of Global Analysis reports can be found under Statistics and Market Information at the following link, arranged by sector and region of interest:

For additional information on ANUGA 2015, please contact:

Ben Berry, Deputy Director
Trade Show Strategy and Delivery
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
ben.berry@canada.ca

Resources

Blueberries in the European Union
Global Analysis Report
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