Chile's fruit industry hits back after Australian grape industry attack
Representatives of the Chilean and U.S. fruit industries have spoken out against comments made by Australian Table Grape Association CEO Jeff Scott, who asked consumers to show 'Chilean imposters the door' when it came to grape imports from the South American country.
Chilean-based Fedefruta president Antonio Walker told www.freshfruitportal.com Scott's reaction to new Chilean grape arrivals was 'typical' for someone who had been alone in the market and did not want any competition.
"If you want protection from imports from the rest of the world, it would be consistent then that you agree not to export - I would recommend you see the advantages; when competition arrives one is obliged to improve quality and performance, and reduce costs, among other things," he said.
"We are in a globalized world of free trade and must be willing to get competition."
One of Scott's arguments against the consumption of imported Chilean grapes was the use of methyl bromide, but Walker said this was a 'cheap excuse' as the country's products were not affected by the compound.
He said Scott was trying to protect his industry from a 'highly competitive' country.
Fedefruta director Rodrigo Echeverria said the use of methyl bromide was a demand of countries of destination to meet phytosanitary entry requirements, highlighting Chile did not use the compound voluntarily.
"I believe it is a misguided strategy that Australian leaders have taken," he said.
He said an attack on a particular source of fruit in a given country was against the rules of international trade, which Australia also needed.
While the Chilean industry has taken the comments as confirmation of their competitiveness, U.S.-based Golden Sun Marketing president Don Goodwin has called on Scott to resign.
"Scott, in an effort to promote his country's table grapes, disparaged product from Chile and suggested to consumers that the grapes from Chile should not be purchased by Australians because they have a high chemical content," he said.
"I understand we all must position our products' selling points against the competition, but negative attacks that create misleading consumer perceptions are inexcusable and the international fresh produce industry should not accept this behavior.
"Mr. Scott, we are all in this together! As a leader of an important trade association, you should not only promote your products, but also the consumption of fresh produce in general.
"As a global produce industry, we should all feel compassion for the plight of the Australian farmer and the unprecedented natural disasters of late. However, your negative comments were irresponsible and have the potential for long term global consequences for imported and exported fresh produce - including from within your own country."
Related story: Australian grape industry warns against Chilean 'imposters'