Triple the volume, new markets for Chilean FreshAtacama grapes

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Triple the volume, new markets for Chilean FreshAtacama grapes

The coordinators of northern Chilean early grape quality seal FreshAtacama expect their first shipments of the season to arrive in the U.S. this week, while the group has also expanded its scope to Asia.

FreshAtacama produce traceability initiative (PTI) coordinator Nelson Nuñez tells total export volume would more than triple this year to one million cartons.

"As the second year, part of the decisions that growers took was to change so that the FreshAtacama seal could also be present in Asian markets, allowing for varieties like Red Globe to be incorporated," he says.

"Certified volumes will start to arrive next week with small volumes in the United States, and the week of Christmas is certain, while the intention is to arrive in Asia for the Chinese New Year in February.

"It's a long trip to Asia so the decisions made by exporting companies are being made, looking at fruit quality and whether it can make the journey."

He says more growers have come on board this year due to future expectations and the confidence the seal will bring to their sector. He adds a certain level of grapes will be rejected due to brix standards, as well as the demands of different markets.

While northern Chilean growers are facing increased competition from other supply regions of the world, Nuñez emphasizes that 'Atacama is not dead'.

"We there is a market for Atacama's fruit despite late varieties from California and the existence of significant production from Peru during the same time.

"The FreshAtacama campaign is based on generating consistency and quality in destination markets.

"This quality will remain with time, that's what we're working on with growers today, and that's why the Atacama industry is not dead; it's reorienting towards a production of better quality and looking for markets, or segments of markets, that will increase sales."

Table grapes are the most important farm export for the region, alongside pomegranates, with the U.S. accounting 58% of table grape shipments from the area. China comes in at second place with 7.4%, followed by Mexico with 6.1%.

The Atacama Desert is the driest in the world with high temperatures, protecting crops from fungi and other diseases.

FreshAtacama organizers say high day temperatures and low night temperatures mean the fruit can reach optimum flavor and sugar levels, including a better sweet-acid balance.

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