Chilean soft fruit specialist Hortifrut almost doubled its sales for the first half of 2020. EBITDA reached US$45.67m, an increase of 93.44 per cent compared to the year-earlier period.

The company said the improved performance was mainly due to the higher prices of Chilean fruit due to better quality, better margins in the frozen food business and the maturation of the investments made in China.

Additionally, a reduction in costs was obtained, also associated with the better quality of fruit, the reduction of administrative and sales expenses related to the implementation of efficiencies, and the decrease in other expenses, by function, due to the lower fair value of fruit in plant registered at the end of 2019, compared to the end of 2018.

Net profit for the first semester totalled US$8.51m, compared to the loss of US$16.14m registered in the same period of 2019. In addition, the company had a profit from the parent company of US$2.50m, up from a loss of US $16.20m in the first half of 2019.

Operating costs totalled US$213.25m, a decrease of 13.25 per cent compared to the US$245.83m registered during the same period last year.

In line with the company's growth strategy, on 31 July, the merger between Hortifrut and Alifrut was finalised to combine their operations of frozen products for export in equal parts, thus forming Vitafoods.

Last month, Hortifrut secured a loan agreement of US$101m to refinance short-term liabilities.

The company said it had maintained its commitment to supply berries every day throughout the pandemic, and that the farms where it is currently harvesting in Peru, Chile and Mexico had not been largely affected by the crisis.