Cranberry raisins take Chilean industry by storm -

Cranberry raisins take Chilean industry by storm

Featured Top Stories Today's Headline
Cranberry raisins take Chilean industry by storm

Chile is well-known as the largest grower of blueberries in the Southern Hemisphere, but historically the fruit's Vaccinium cousin the cranberry has received much less attention. While the country's plantations of the red fruit may pale in insignificance compared to the world's largest producer the United States, the industry is growing at a great speed and has hit enviable levels of productivity. At we speak with Chile's largest grower to find out more.

CranChile manager Felipe Valenzuela says the company is witnessing its "best moment" with yields of 28-30 metric tons (MT) per hectare, which outweights the U.S.' 20-22MT/ha figure.

This production spans 600 hectares in the southern XIV (Los Rios) region and accounts for 90% of the country's cranberry market, but
times have not always been so kind to the business.

"In 1995 we started propagating the fruit but the process was very slow and the fields produced at very low levels," Valenzuela told

"In 1998 there was a change in the company and Dave Brooks - a retired cranberry farmer - was brought in from the U.S. and made us replant all our crops because we were doing everything wrong."

With the help of Brooks' expertise, in 2006 CranChile conducted a complete industrial restructuring, incorporating better technology that led to better yields.

"Until that time we sent 100% of our production to juicing, and this was our business until 2007 when we started trying out new product lines, and that's where saw sweet cranberry raisins were attractive for agroindustry and was more profitable."

Today around 90% of its crop goes to this new industry while only 10% ends up in juices.

Chilean sweet cranberry raisins hit the market

CranChile's profitability rose by 30-35% when it made the switch to cranberry raisins and the company has never looked back.

"The growth we have maintained just in Chile has been 25% annually," Valenzuela said.

The domestic market only represents 5% of the company's production, equivalent to around US$1 million, while the rest is destined for Germany, the Netherlands and England. Chile recently started exporting to the Asian market, namely China and South Korea.

"We are suppliers of ingredients to agroindustry, that utilizes them for cereals, snacks and even yoghurt."

He attributes part of the success to a change in consumer mentality, with people today not only looking for flavor but added value, such as nutritional benefits. Cranberries have properties that can help avoid urinary infections, are good for heart health and can assist in warding off cancer through its flavonoids.

Differences with the U.S.

The executive highlights CranChile has found a great opportunity in cranberries, which by virtue of their hard skin are favorable for collection. Harvesting costs are also lower than for other berries.

"In Chile the climatic conditions are very favorable, because our winters are not as severe as those of Wisconsin, which is where the majority of cranberry plantations are in U.S. and where temperatures can reach -20-22C° (-4-7.5°F).

"We don't suffer from such aggressive frosts and this friendly climate translates to better productivity.

"The state of Oregon on the West Coast is more similar to our climate. There they also have cranberry plantations but in lower volumes."


The Chilean trend towards cranberry raisins continues to grow and the company expects its own production will reach 30,000MT in 10 years' time; a figure that is 80% higher than the current level.

Valenzuela expects Asian demand will increase and European imports will continue.

Subscribe to our newsletter