Chile seedless grape growers could switch up to 15% of production to raisins
The move would reduce labor costs and compensate for the fall in income that will take place this season because of the weak U.S. dollar and the lower value of fresh fruit in international markets, the website said.
The situation would affect all seedless varieties, especially the Thompson variety, which represents about 25% of land devoted to grapes in Chile.
“The change could represent between 10% and 15% of all seedless,” Arturo Costabal, executive director of Southern Fruit, a Chilean exporter, was quoted as saying.
For Juan Eduardo Laso, vice president of Chile’s Raisin Committee, the move is a sign of not only growing consumption of raisins, but also a need for growers to have better control and foresight into their business.
Being a dried fruit, raisins are easier to store and maintain than their fresh fruit cousins. More importantly both production and pricing are more stable than the market for table grapes, in which the accepted supplier-importer agreement is consignment. The costs associated with table grapes are also nearly double that of raisins, Laso added.
“The grower knows beforehand how much they can make, you don’t have to wait for export returns to come back,” Laso told FreshFruitPortal.com.
But Laso stresses that table grapes and raisins are not competing, but rather can complement one another.
Southern Fruit’s Costabal says that the percentage converted to raisins will depend on the financial backing of each grower.
During last season, raisins reached record values of US $2,300 per metric ton, prices that would remain for the upcoming season. But the switch could end in an oversupply of raisins. “Without doubt, this could have the effect of lower the value of raisin if a lot of growers decide to convert,” Costabal said, according to the website.