New certification to drive Chilean early grape exports

Most Read Today's Headline
New certification to drive Chilean early grape exports

Early season grape growers in Chile's northern Atacama region are set to ship 500,000 cases to the U.S. market this season under a new quality certification seal.

The FreshAtacama Seal of Excellence is the result of a private-public partnership project that aims to boost competitiveness for the sector, in a bid to differentiate from competitors and provide guaranteed consistency.

Click here for a gallery of FreshAtacama photos.

For more information visit

The effort aims to highlight the climatic benefits of the Copiapó and Huasco valleys, which despite the irrigation challenges have led to a thriving industry that is set to export 107,441 metric tons (MT) this year.

The first harvest will begin in the second week of November with the Perlette and Flame Seedless varieties, then followed by the Sugraone, Thompson Seedless, Black Seedless, Red Globe, Autumn Royal and Crimson Seedless varieties through to mid-March.

Decofrut president Manuel José Alcaíno says the regional climate has benefits for fruit health, but the demanding work takes a strong degree of commitment.

"There is something mystic, that people have turned their hands in the desert and get fruit that is exported successfully. A process like that requires a breed of entrepreneur with a high level of sacrifice and tolerance for failure," he says.

"All cases that carry the seal will pass through strict controls in production areas and this will be reflected in the seal.

The certification project is part of the government-backed Territorial Innovation Program, which is financed by the regional government, with involvement from the Agricultural Innovation Foundation (FIA) and the Rural Sector Social Development Corporation (Codesser).

Growers from the region say their fruit is renowned for its crispiness and intense flavor, which is a result of high temperatures during the day and cooler nights that help the grapes reach optimal sugar levels, with a good balance between sweetness and acidity. These climatic conditions also mean fungal diseases are not able to develop as easily.

Territorial Innovation Program coordinator Nelson Núñez, says the certification will make early Chilean grapes known in destination markets as safe and well finished fruit.

Volumes for most grape varieties from the region will be lower this year due to unusual snow on Jul. 30 and Aug. 1, with damages estimated to be around US$40 million. However, exports of the region's dominant grape variety Red Globe is set to rise 8% to 30,261MT this season.

Exports of Atacama's second largest grape variety Flame Seedless are set to drop slightly to 24,154MT, while the third largest variety Thompson Seedless is set to drop 10% to 22,685MT.

Subscribe to our newsletter