The US has approved imports of Chilean lemons that have not been fumigated with methyl bromide, paving the way for a substantial rise in shipments.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the US Department of Agriculture announced last week that after four years of negotiations it has approved imports under a Systems Approach, which sets out various risk mitigation measures for a given pest – in this case Brevipalpus chilensis.
The measures include producers registering to export to the US and receiving certification that there is a low prevalence of this pest in their farms, as well as washing and waxing the fruit and subjecting shipments to phytosanitary inspection.
The announcement was published on 6 April in the US Federal Register and will come into force 30 days later.
“The US is a very important market for Chile, and will continue to be so with this new alternative,” said Chile’s agriculture minister Antonio Walker.
Ronald Bown, president of Asoex, welcomed the timing of the announcement, which meant the new rules would come into force before the beginning of the 2018 lemon harvest.
Chile exported a total of 77,500 tonnes of lemons last season, of which 43,000 tonnes were shipped to the US, making Chile the main external supplier to this market.