chile exports

Weak international markets led to a 6 per cent drop in the value of Chile’s fresh fruit exports during the 2008/09 season, despite a 1.9 per cent increase in volume, according to Chilean Fresh Fruit Grower Federation (Fedefruta) president Rodrigo Echeverría.

Speaking at Fedefruta’s 22nd Annual Convention, Mr Echeverría said low prices for normally high-value items soured this past season’s profit line, with prices falling for apples (-17 per cent), cherries (-14 per cent), nectarines (-11 per cent), kiwifruit (-11 per cent), lemons (-10 per cent), peaches (-9 per cent) and table grapes (-8 per cent).

Conversely, Mr Echeverría said export value for a number of Chilean fruit items rose during the 2008/09 season, including avocados (up 67 per cent), raspberries (38 per cent), mandarins (23 per cent), oranges (21 per cent) and blueberries (3 per cent). The increase in blueberry export value, however, was down to the increase in shipped volume since prices also fell in this category.

Total Chilean fruit sales reached some US$3.14bn in value last season, or US$188m less than in 2007/08. Volume, meanwhile, rose to 2.45m tonnes, up from 2.41m tonnes during the previous season.

Mr Echeverría said Chile’s fruit industry must now work to become less dependent on the US and the EU by increasing sales in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

“We have to ship more fruit to those parts of the world that have best weathered the economic crisis – markets like China, Japan and Israel,” he explained. “The less dependent we become on the US and European markets, the better off Chilean fruit growers will be.”

Fedefruta convenes it 22nd Annual Convention this week at the Sheraton Hotel in the Chilean capital Santiago, which features a wide variety of workshops updating growers on fruit growing and management techniques.

The event also showcases the Seventh Annual International Business Roundtable, aimed to put Chilean fresh fruit growers directly in contact with clients across the globe.