Chile to adopt new apple varieties

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Chile to adopt new apple varieties

Chile's apple industry has witnessed 'staggering' changes in its apple varieties over the last 20 years, according to Alejandro Navarro from nursery Viverosur. So it comes as no surprise that the industry is shifting once more to keep pace with market trends.

Statistics from Chile's Office of Agriculture Studies and Policy (ODEPA) show the country exported US$539.8 million worth of fresh apples from January to August, with a strong focus on the the Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, Crisp Pink and Granny Smith varieties.

SweeTango apples

The situation wasn't always this way. Last week at networking event FRUITTRADE in Santiago, Navarro said the industry has come changed significantly since the 90s when 70% of apple exports were Red Delicious and 30% were Granny Smith, and those shifting percentages will continue in times to come.

"The future points to niche business run by trade groups who opt for greater control over the supply of these varieties, with the aim of controlling their trading lives over the medium term," he said.

"The country must be willing to evaluate these changes and be part of these global changes."

In this context, Navarro's nursery is introducing several new 'promising' apple varieties for cultivation in the country's south. In his opinion the 'SweeTango' (MN 1914) has the greatest potential, which is a cross between the Honeycrisp and Zestar varieties.

Chile is also taking on the Evelina apple variey

He said the fruit is known for its bicolor skin, with a size of between 70-80mm, a crispy texture like the Honeycrisp but with a more intense flavor. In Chile the variety will be handled under a club format with exporters Copefrut, Unifrutti, Frusan, Lafrut and San Clemente now in the testing stages.

Navarro pointed out the Evelina variety was also in a trial stage in Chile with exporters such as Frusan, Dole, Unifrutti and Lafrut. The variety is a mutation of the Pinova apple and has a red-orange color.

Some of the Evelina's main features are its flavor and texture, along with a low susceptibility to fungal disease.

According to ODEPA statistics, Royal Gala is by far Chile's leading variety with 46% of exports, followed by Granny Smith (12%), Fuji (11%) and Richard Delicious (11%).

Related story: Chile's gala apples having a ball in the Middle East

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