Chile's raisin chairman calls for unity to boost income

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Chile's raisin chairman calls for unity to boost income

The Chilean Raisin Committee has called for unity in accessing new markets such as the Far and Middle East.

Speaking at an industry seminar, committee chairman Juan Eduardo Laso said producers had operated seperately out of distrust until recently, which worked against the sector, especially in terms of prices.

"This year, the lack of actual data allowed the speculators to artificially raise the price of grapes and therefore the cost of the raisins was very high," he said.

"The result was indebted driers, who lost a lot of money, as prices fell from CLP850 (US$1.73) per kilogram (2.2 lbs) of raisins to CLP700 (US$1.43) per kilogram (2.2 lbs) or even less."

He said that by pooling knowledge and expertise producers could improve the structure of the industry and raise its profile.

"The raisin business in Chile is seen as small and secondary, it's always been like this and treated dismissively, however, it is a business worth US$2.5 billion a year worldwide. Turkey and the United States have 185,ooo hectares of land devoted to the crop."

But he was upbeat about Chile's role in promoting the sector, referring to the World Raisin Congress held in Viña del Mar which attracted major producing countries such as the U.S., Turkey Australia, South Africa and Argentina.

"Every year we get together to discuss the market situation of each country and the world. This gives us the ability to be clear about what is happening and following season projections."

He said 2012 prices were expected to be similar to the previous year's.

Laso reported that over the last 30 years the income generated from raisins in Chile had jumped from $US2 million to $US153 million.

Chile is the 4th largest exporter of raisins in the world and the 6th biggest producer. It is also the largest producer of flame dried raisins.

Other topics discussed included financial instruments and private and public sector collaborations, as well as research that suggesting raisins prevented tooth decay and gum disease.


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