Exports up in volume and value overall, but Chinese campaign marred by quality issues

Chile stonefruit

Chilean stonefruit exporters achieved record results in 2023/24 despite facing a challenging campaign in which results varied widely across different markets. A total of 36.5m cartons were shipped worldwide, representing an increase of 18 per cent on the previous season. FOB sales value grew 14 per cent to US$519m.

Exports to China, (Chile’s number one market with a 56 per cent share of total shipments), grew 25 per cent in volume but just 5 per cent in value, while the inverse was true in the US (accounting 19 per cent of total exports), where shipments grew 20 per cent in value despite registering a 1 per cent decrease in volume.

Iván Marambio, president of Frutas de Chile, said the results marked “a new era and recovery for the Chilean stone industry”.

By product, shipments of Japanese plums totalled 13.96m cartons (7kg), an increase of 24 per cent on the previous season. Nectarine exports were up 14 per cent at 11.6m cartons (8kg) and European plums (Sugar Plums) finished 23 per cent up at 8.1m cartons (9kg). Peach exports dipped 2 per cent to 2.8m cartons (8kg), while apricot exports fell 48 per cent on the previous season to finish at 100,000 cartons.

Ignacio Caballero, executive director of the newly formed Chilean Stonefruit Committee, said the strong results reflected the fresh impetus caused by the creation of the committee, which will represent almost 80 per cent of the country’s total stonefruit exports next season.

However, he added that the sector still faces multiple challenges, especially in China, where results were impacted by shipments of European plums being concentrated into fewer weeks and poor fruit condition on arrival.

“We have a lot to work on for next season with this product so that this situation is not repeated,” Caballero noted.

In the case of nectarines, China took 43 per cent of total shipments, representing a 32 per cent increase in volume on last season. The US was in second place with a 24 per cent share of exports (down 11 per cent on 2022/23), and the Netherlands was third, receiving 5 per cent of total shipments (up 49 per cent on the previous year).

The biggest growth was in shipments of white-fleshed nectarines, which grew 25 per cent and accounted for 59 per cent of total nectarine exports.

In peaches, the US was the number one market, taking 48 per cent of Chile’s total exports. It was followed by Mexico with 21 per cent and Brazil with 11per cent. China, which opened this season for Chilean peaches, took 60,000 cartons (8kg), equivalent to 2 per cent of the total shipment volume.

Caballero noted that there is plenty of potential to further increase stonefruit shipments as demand is on the rise. He said marketing campaigns focused on the health attributes of stonefruit are the key to growing demand, particularly in Asia.