Chile's table grape exports are likely to drop by 8 percent this seasonto 776,000 tonnes, deepening the problems seen in the previous 2006/2007season when table grape exports fell by 6 per cent.
This was the assessment of Rodrigo Echeverría, president of the Fedefruta growers association, who told Fruitnet that the figures represented 'the worst season for Chile’s growers since the ‘poisoned grape’ scare at the end of the 1980s'.
Chile’s 2007/2008 table grape season is scheduled to come to an official close towards the end of July, and growers and exporters across the sector appear unhappy with the results.
Mr Echeverría blamed a host of coincidental events for this season’sunhappy results – bad weather, the low-valued dollar, risingproduction, labor and transport costs, increased prices for competinggrain crops – but also cautioned that the problems facing the industrycould be much deeper.
“It wasn’t that bad a season for cherries, apples and pears, but manygrowers will have to carefully study their current production methods,their market destinations and their crop selection in order to restoreprofits to their businesses,” he said.
Table grapes are Chile’s most important fresh fruit export, followed by apples (774,000 tonnes in 2007/2008), and avocados (146,000 tonnes).