Second estimate from Chilean Cherry Committee shows 14.6 per cent decrease on original forecast

Chilean cherries

The Chilean Cherry Committee has cut its forecast for the 2023/24 season following recent adverse climatic events. The new estimate pegs the export crop at 81.478m cartons (5kg), 14.6 per cent down on the first forecast in October and 1.89 per cent lower than last season’s shipment total.

“It is important to make clear that this season has not been easy to estimate the volumes, due to effects of climate change and the El Niño phenomenon, which has meant that the volumes vary week by week,” said the committee’s executive director Claudia Soler, adding that “the forecast will evolve as the season progresses and the effects of the latest rains on the ground are evaluated”.

The peak season remains the same at week 51, from 18-24 December. “Today our efforts are concentrated on shipping the fruit with the quality and condition that the markets expect, and despite the drop in volumes we are confident that it will be a good season,” Soler said. “We believe that the markets will respond well, since there are already signs there is demand.”

As well as the heavy rains, producers are having to contend with the collapse of Chile’s automated Customs system. Producer federation Fedefruta said the system has been down since Monday and that it is carefully monitoring the situation.

Fedefruta president Jorge Valenzuela said; “Until now, producers indicate that they have been able to make shipments and manage the documentation, but we have already had many difficulties due to the rains and now face a delay that compromises cherries that, as never before, need to arrive quickly to the ships and to the destinations”.

Fedefruta has asked the National Customs Service to activate a contingency plan as soon as possible. “We hope that this computer problem, that has been going on for quite some time, will be resolved as soon as possible, because if it generates delays it can affect the condition of fruit that was already very difficult to harvest, let alone pack,” the federation said.

Fedefruta is also keeping an eye on the strike initiated recently by temporary port workers in San Antonio, which has forced all types of gate and yard work to be suspended at DP World San Antonio facilities. The producers’ union said it reviewing whether this situation affects the loading of refrigerated containers.