News and insight for North America's fresh produce buyers
Steve Anderson

BY STEVE ANDERSON

Thursday 23rd October 2008, 08:14 Central Time

Mixed forecast for Chilean stonefruit

Chile’s stonefruit growers and exporters are predicting a good season despite on-going difficulties with their peach export deal

Mixed forecast for Chilean stonefruit

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Chile's nectarine and plum exports are expected to have another solid campaign thanks in part to the development of new varieties, although some concerns remain about problems surrounding peach exports.

Nectarine exports during the 2007/08 campaign totaled 7.7m cases, up slightly from the 7m cases exported in 2007/2008, while peach exports in 2007/2008 totaled 5.8m cases, down slightly from the previous season's 6m cases.

Although plum exports dropped to 11.7m cases from the 13.8m cases exported the season before, volumes are expected to remain stable this campaign.

Greater concern surrounds peach exports, which "fared very poorly", according to Manuel Jose Alcaino, executive director at Decofrut, a Santiago-based fresh fruit analysis and service provider. "Our peaches are doing badly because the varieties we grow really don't get to the market in an optimal fashion – they aren't ripe enough and they aren't enjoyable enough," he explained.

Isabel Quiroz, executive director at fresh fruit consulting firm Iqonsulting, told Fruitnet that the sector expects to see a further drop in peach exports this season. "Mostly likely there will be a 5 or 10 percent drop in peach volumes, but this may help keep prices a bit higher at the peak of the season than they were last season," she said.

However, Chilean nectarine and plums are expected to have a relatively stable and successful season, according to Mr Alcaino. "Last season was very good for both (products), and this season should be, too, if the weather cooperates," he added.

"Chile's nectarine deal is in a bit better shape than its peach deal," said Ms Quiroz. "There are a lot of new nectarine varieties being planted, especially white fleshed varieties like Arctic Snow."

Nectarine exports went primarily to North America, which received 4 million cases, while Europe received 2.3m cases, Latin America 850,000 cases and the Far East 458,000 cases.

Europe was the top market for Chilean plums last season, receiving 5.3 million cases, followed by North America with 4m cases, Latin America with 1.4m cases, and the Far East with 830,000 cases.

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