A growing number of apple and pear exporters from the Rio Negro Valley and Neuquén are switching to ports outside the area to load their shipments as the competitiveness of regional ports like San Antonio Este continues to slide.
Figures from the CIF Business Intelligence Consultancy show that a growing proportion of the region’s fruit exports is being shipped through Chilean ports this season.
Just over 8,620 tonnes of apples and pears were sent from Chile to 24 February, representing 15 per cent of the total export volume. This is an increase of 54 per cent over the same period last year. During that time, SAE has seen a 26 per cent drop in fruit cargo.
“For some time now, growers in the Valley have been using Chilean ports to ship fruit to the West Coast of the US and to other South American countries with Atlantic ports,” one regional operator told news website Rionegro.com.ar.
More worryingly, there is a growing trend for topfruit destined for the European market being shipped through the port of Valparaíso as opposed to San Antonio Este. As of 24 February, this had reached just over 4,000 tonnes.
Lower costs, better logistics and more consistency were the main reasons cited by exporters for the switch.
The figures also reveal a 62 per cent increase in the volume of fruit from the Rio Negro Valley and Neuquén being sent from Buenos Aires, which, as of the end of February, stood at 6,000 tonnes. Again, lower costs were the biggest reason for the switch.
Argentina’s topfruit campaign has got off to a slow start this year, with shipments down 13 per cent to 57,456 tonnes to 24 February, according to CIF.
Although topfruit production in the region is down this year, exports are expected to increase by around 20 per cent compared to 2017 due to the improved quality of the crop.