Chilean fruit exports rise 3.5% in 2009-10 season -

Chilean fruit exports rise 3.5% in 2009-10 season

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Chilean fruit exports rise 3.5% in 2009-10 season

Chile’s fruit exports rose 3.5% in 2009-10, with a sharp rise for citrus, blueberries and apples and a big drop for avocados, according to data from Decofrut, a consulting group.

The nation shipped 2,448,000 tons of fruit from Sept. 1, 2009 to Aug. 31, 2010, compared with 2,364,000 the year before.

Shipments of lemons rose 46% and oranges rose 40%. Chilean citrus filled the gap left by Argentina, the main exporter in the Southern Hemisphere, which was affected by hard frosts.

Blueberry shipments rose 27% and apple exports rose 10%

“Blueberries had a very good season,” said Juan Carlos Sepúlveda, general manager of Fedefruta,   a group representing growers in Chile. In 2008-09, 38,500 tons were shipped, and in 2009-10, 49,000 tons were shipped, he said.

A late start to the season due to low temperatures created a shortage that pushed up prices, added Manuel José Alcaíno, president of Decofrut.

For apples, sales went up early in the season. At the end of the season, the main market, Europe, was complicated by the economic crisis, Alcaíno said.

The increases in citrus, apples and blueberries were countered by a fall in shipments of Chile’s main export, table grapes. Table grapes, along with apples, are three-fourths of Chile’s fruit exports.

With a lower harvest caused by weather problems, table grape exports fell 6%. In 2008-09, 850,000 tons were shipped; in 2009-10, less than 800,000 tons were shipped, according to Fedefruta.

But the shortage -- caused by a late harvest and the February earthquake—sent prices rising sharply in the U.S., Alcaíno said. In March, boxes of table grapes sold for U.S. $30, when normally they sell for U.S. $15 to $17, he added.

Export volume of avocados dropped 90% because growers delayed the harvest in the hope that the U.S. market would finish using avocados from California.

Fedefruta projects that total exports will fall 2% in 2010-11, with avocado shipments falling by 40%. It forecasts that revenue will rise 5%, to U.S. $3.05 billion.


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