Chilean stonefruit hitting peak volumes

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Chilean stonefruit hitting peak volumes

Chilean stonefruit production has been down to date but growers' association Fedefruta still expects similar export volumes to the 2010-11 season.

Fedefruta senior vice president Cristián Allendes highlights volumes are in the thick of sales now following the usual slow period between Christmas and New Year's Eve.

"We are in the middle of the season, when the largest amounts of plums, nectarines and peaches enter the market. This is the period with the highest amount of volumes, which define whether the market will hold, contract or fall," he says.

"Production has been lower than last season. Plums have fallen 20%, nectarines 2% and peaches by between 12-15%."

He says the fall in peach production is explained by a lower level of plantations, after many orchards were taken out. Allendes adds the current market behavior is still similar to last year, when the country shipped 101,900 metric tons (MT) of plums, 62,600MT of nectarines and 37,700MT of peaches.

"So far they have performed quite well. In the U.S. prices fell somewhat, but that is typical after the large volumes start arriving after Christmas. Also for Europe, with the low exchange rate and the situation it is facing, it was decided to reduce shipments."

Allendes emphasizes there may even be an increase in plum and nectarine exports, but the situation will be clearer in February.

Local production issues

Región Metropolitana grower Francisco Donoso says there was a good period of flowering this season, with normal and even fruit set and improved yields in some cases.

More specifically, he says d'Agen plums registered very good production in the VI (O'Higgins) and VII (Maule) regions.

"Too much fruit was set and that means we will probably have smaller sizes at the national level, but in any case we expect the (local d'Agen)market to be a little bit out of stock."

Donoso says fruit set for peaches and nectarines has been good, although there was small reduction in production due to weather problems.

V (Valparaiso) region grower Rodrigo Echeverría says frosts led to lower peach production in his region, estimating that up to a 35% reduction could occur for the national peach harvest.

Canned Peach Committee president Ricardo Haz says three poor seasons have led to reduced planting.

"More than 2,000 hectares have been lost, and in addition orchards have aged," he says.

"It is estimated that Chile will produce 250,000 (metric) tons, under circumstances that all companies have increased their canning capacity, reaching an installed capacity of 350,000 (metric) tons."

Photo: Oppenheimer

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