Chile to plant new U.S. grape varieties

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Chile to plant new U.S. grape varieties

A leading U.S. fruit company has forecast more new grape varieties will be planted in Chile in the future, while there is also great potential in Peru.

Pandol VP of sales and marketing Scott Reade has told the genetic makeup of Chilean grapes will likely be very different further down the track.

"There are a lot of new varieties in the U.S. which are planted in the U.S. and are very interesting to retailer stores, and I expect in the future that more of those varieties will be planted down in Chile," he says.

"I know there are companies that are testing those new varieties now out of California. Chile’s a unique growing area, it’s not the same as California, so these new varieties are in the process of being tested, being trialled and for the growing environment I’m sure some of them will work out well for Chile and some of them probably will not."

Reade said he would prefer not to endorse any specific variety, but described some of their general characteristics as better yields, improved berry size and improved crunchier texture.

He says demand and the influence of Californian and Mexican supply are some of the main factors affecting the U.S. market at the moment, while the industry is also taking note of buying power competition with other markets like Europe and China.

"It’s very clear to us from meeting with a number of exporters that there are a number of markets that are more lucrative for Chilean exporters and growers, and so our hope is that the U.S. market will become more competitive as we move forward," he says.

"I think as more boxes go to other markets, that creates less pressure in the U.S. market's general perspective - I don't think one marketer can hold the price up necessarily, but last year was a very good indication that everybody saw where the market price settled and it was higher than everyone expected.

He says the Peruvian industry too is one to watch but it is difficult to compare its situation with the southern neighbors in Chile.

"Peruvian grapes have been generally accepted by customers in the United States. I think it’s difficult to compare the Peruvian grapes with the Chilean grapes.

"It's a different timeframe to an extent. I wouldn’t say one is necessarily better than the other."

According to statistics released by Chile's Office of Agriculture Studies and Policy, Thompson Seedless has the highest planting area in Chile with 15,971 hectares, but this is 8.7% less than 17,489 hectares in 2005.

The second-largest area is dedicated to Red Globe grapes at 10,704 hectares, followed by Flame Seedless (9,108 hectares), Crimson Seedless (8,070 hectares), Superior Seedless (3,839 hectares) and Autumn Royal (1,127 hectares).

Reade recently told that an increase in Californian late variety volumes could affect the  Brazilian grape industry.

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