Chile holds raspberry round table after price protests
A Chilean regional agricultural secretariat has met with various groups from the raspberry industry to tackle the issues of low global prices and a high exchange rate, following protests from small growers in February.
Bio-Bio secretarial minister for agriculture José Manuel Rebolledo, has called on raspberry growers to keep down costs to combat the negative effects of international price falls, reported Diario La Discusion.
The response effectively means the government will not comply with the demands of small growers.
Around 100 protesters converged on the main square of the town of Linares in February, seeking government assistance to fix a price floor to avoid losses for the sector, reported Diario El Centro, as global raspberry prices fell from 700 pesos to 480 pesos per kilogram (US$1.47 to $1.01).
But in the recent meeting Rebolledo said prices could not be altered, while highlighting the profitable potential for raspberry growers despite the current price situation, La Discusion reported.
“The price is a result of the cost, and the margin, so what we are promoting is to minimize cost regardless of the exchange rate we have, and we cannot have a great interference in the international price as we are a small player in the market,” he was quoted as saying.
Alifrut agricultural manager Patricio Valenzuela told the newspaper there had been an overproduction of raspberries, while there was not sufficient capacity to process the fruit in existing facilities.
“The market has been quite complicated and it is more than likely that it will remain that way this season, as we are now on the final straight. Do not forget the raspberry (industry) is in the hands of small growers, which implies fairly big damages,” he was quoted as saying.
“We also must point out that farmers have grown indiscriminately and no one asked about the real processing capacity in Chile, and for that we now see an overproduction and there aren't the plants capable of processing.”