Berry Fever in Michoacan, Jalisco and Baja California
|Michoacan, Baja California, and Jalisco are the main producers of berries in the country, as they account for 85 percent of the domestic production’s value. The main export destination is the United States.|
Jalisco, Mexico – A new berry fever has attracted the interest of farmers in Michoacan, Jalisco, and Baja California, which began growing berries due to their high profitability.
A producer specialized in producing berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries) can earn up to six times what a producer of corn makes because a ton of berries is being paid for more than 20,000 pesos while a ton of corn costs 3,000 pesos.
Meanwhile avocado prices only surpass berry prices by 30 percent, as they are sold at 26,000 pesos per ton.
Each year many producers attracted by the prices achieved by berries have chosen to start cultivating this culture to the point that the area planted with these berries grew by 179 percent in the last 10 years, going from 8,968 hectares in 2005 to more than 25,000 last year, according to the Agricultural and Fisheries Information System (SIAP).Jesus Valdes, founder of Main Land Farms, a company that produces and exports berries, said that producers had to make a high investment, of at least half a million pesos per hectare, to start cultivating this crop but that its profitability was higher than that of other crops.
Michoacan, Baja California, and Jalisco are the main producers in the country, as they account for 85 percent of the domestic production’s value. The main export destination is the United States, with just over 90 percent of shipments, followed by Europe, and Asian markets, such as Japan and Hong Kong.
In 2015 berry exports, which include exports of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, amounted to 1,501 million dollars, only 380 million dollars lower than avocado exports and 321 million dollars less than tomato exports, according to data from the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA).
80 percent of exports were aimed at retail chains like Costco, Walmart, and Target, where consumers can find Mexican berries under different brand names, such as Naturipe, BerryFresh, Driscoll’s and Red Blossom.
As berry exports have a sustained double-digit growth each year, berry producers in Mexico want their fruits to become the agricultural product with the highest export value.
“If this growth rate continues, we will rank first and double our production in four years,” said the president of the National Association of Berry Exporters (Aneberries), Mario Andrade.
Currently Mexico produces 30 percent of the berries exported in the world. The Vice President of Driscoll’s Mexico, Mario Steta, estimated that by 2020 the value of berry exports would be about 3 billion dollars.
“We will have surpassed avocado and tomato exports, which are the country’s flagship products, regarding their value” Steta said.
In 2006, Mexico only exported $450 million dollars and the country had almost tripled that number by 2015.
The berry exports industry has had to pay a price for exporting more than 390,000 tons and 1,500 million dollars, specifically in Baja California, where hundreds of laborers of the San Quintin Valley in Ensenada have protested to demand better working conditions.
According to Mario Steta, this is the great challenge for the sector. “In the next few years, the sector has to focus on improving the conditions of workers in the rural environment (…) otherwise, nobody is going to work for us,” he stated.