Growth in Asia promising for Chilean table grapes

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Growth in Asia promising for Chilean table grapes

Chilean table grape exports are expected to increase 4% year-on-year in the 2012-2013 season, following a tough campaign last year marked by difficult weather conditions.

According to a Sep. 1 report by market researcher iQonsulting, exports will reach around 846,000 tons (MT), surpassing last season's total of 813,000MT.

While North America remains the main destination for the fruit, iQonsulting executive director Isabel Quiroz told that there was great potential in Asia.

"At iQonsulting, we have done some calculations with the GDP growth of the region's main importing countries and estimates indicate that demand for the the Southern Hemisphere period will rise to 250,000MT," she said.

"It is currently at 200,000MT."

Quiroz added that beyond the ability to absorb higher volumes, these markets were willing to pay high prices for quality fruit. Major markets include China and to a lesser extent, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.

"Moreover, diversity of culture and tastes makes it so that Chile has several possibilities to place the right fruit in the right place," she said.

"One very illustrative example is the color of Red Globe grapes. In China, the dark color is punished. In Korea, it is valued and because of that, it is vitally important to know each market well to do a good job distributing your product."

In Asia, the main destination will continue to be China, with sellers hoping for more even distribution between Guangzhou for the south, Shanghai for the interior and Dalian-Tianjin for the north. Quiroz explained this would extend access to new consumers and take pressure off of Guangzhou.

Other important destinations include South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

The expert said despite financial problems and unemployment in the U.S., there has not been significant decline in food purchases.

"The U.S. population is definitely different from the European one, and food consumption is less affected by economic problems," Quiroz explained.

"Other factors indicate problems, for example, the ability to lower prices when supply increases or quality has trouble. The market is more sensitive but demand remains.

"From the perspective of Chilean exports, this is good because the volume consumed by the U.S. market is hard to achieve elsewhere. In a way, this gives security to exporters because they can count on this market. Still, they should look for more attractive prices on other markets looking for better quality."

Opportunities for South American fruit are promising. Although not at the same level as Asia, Quiroz said that Brazil and Colombia have shown favorable demand, and countries like Venezuela and Ecuador are playing a major role as importers.

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