Prunes soar in value with Chile now a major exporter
Prune imports have increased by 47% in value and 29% in volume globally from 2001-2010 with Russia the largest importer, according to figures from Chile’s Office of Agricultural Studies and Policy (ODEPA)
Russia has led the rush to import the dried fruit with a 611% increase in consumption of 35,537 metric tons (MT) in 2010, worth US$74 million and representing a 1,935% rise in value.
The country accounts for 26% of all prune imports followed by Germany at 17%, Japan (13%), Italy (10%), Brazil (8.5%) and Great Britain (7%). Prunes are popular among Russians so the trend looks likely to continue.
China has 1.7 million hectares of plum trees accounting for 69% of the world’s total of 2.4 million hectares dedicated to the crop.
Other countries with significant orchards include Serbia (5.2%), Romania (2.8%) and U.S. (1.5%) and Chile trailing in 12th place with 0.7%.
Global plum production reached 10,998,227MT in 2010 with 5.1% traded on international markets as fresh and 2% as dried, showing a 28% growth over the last 10 years up to 2010.
In the last decade prune exports have increased by 72% to 216,524MT in 2010 with the U.S., Chile, Argentina, France, Holland and Germany the major exporting countries in terms of value.
Chile is the largest Southern Hemisphere exporter with 59,966MT shipped in 2010 worth US$112.3 million, according to ODEPA, while the U.S. decreased by 18% to 68,155MT in 2010.
According to the ODEPA report this is due to fewer hectares being planted and increased South American production, where exports have quadrupled increasing world supply and lowering prices.
“The U.S. industry has responded developing smaller-sized varieties more suited to Asian market preferences, especially China, and has encouraged the consumption of prunes through a strong advertising campaign,” said the report authors.