Chile's 2013 kiwifruit market outlook
The Chilean Kiwifruit Committee has forecast an 8% fall in production this year to 200,000 metric tons (MT), but is positive about prospects in the Northern Hemisphere due to lower volumes in Europe. At www.freshfruitportal.com, we speak with the committee's president Carlos Cruzat about expectations for the 2013 campaign and what exports will need to keep in mind make the most of auspicious circumstances.
He says prices will drop if Chile enters the market to aggressively.
"Last year the market was not pressured by so much fruit. Italy had 20% less fruit, and in fact the small sizes that are the hardest to sell have a stock of less than 50%, so according to the Italian industry they could finish at the end of May or the start of June," he says.
"Italy had an entry into the European market with good prices, and sales were a bit slow because of the ongoing crisis."
He said the market has kept good prices, and Italians expect this to carry right through to their departure from the market, which would be positive for Chile.
He highlights U.S. volumes have also been lower than in previous seasons, and as European supply is also scarce there will be a good clear path for the entry of Chilean kiwifruit.
"In general the Northern Hemisphere is coming out of a good year with volumes slightly fallen, and Chile will have to be slow so that these prices don't fall.
"Probably Latin America, the U.S. and Asia are the most cleared up for the initial stage of the Chilean season."
Cruzat points out that New Zealand - which competes directly with Chile - is facing a very difficult situation with vine disease Psa, with 50% of gold variety crops affected.
"Psa has not had an effect on New Zealand's green kiwifruit, but there will be a lack of gold kiwifruit, and green kiwifruit will probably be promoted to fill that space," he says.
Around 90% of Chile's crop is with green kiwifruit, leading Cruzat to predict stiff competition in the global marketplace.
"There will be a very tough fight because Zespri will want to maintain its position as the seller of the mix, so this pushes us to arrive with very good quality."
He says Chilean fruit has a delay of about one week, emphasizing that exporters must take care with the season's very early shipments so that the kiwifruit arrives in the high quality condition that today's consumer demands.
"They must have conditioning programs on arrival to ensure the required quality and ripeness of the fruit."
Psa in Chile
Chile now has 57 cases of Psa-infected orchards; a figure that increased greatly in 2012 surveys when 51 cases were identified. However, prevention work and pest control in conjunction with the Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) has been so effective that Psa is not expected to have an impact on projections this year.
"The PSA in Chile will affect some orchards in particular, but it will not have an effect on the industry. The situation today is that we are facing a growing disease, and in the face of this the expansion must be controlled," says Cruzat.
The Chilean Kiwifruit Committee is currently working with SAG to see what regulations will be applied this year, such as the pulling out of plants, and the management of laboratories and handling bins.
Cruzat adds that growers must have phytosanitary programs in the field to prevent the pest's spread, removing diseased areas and using prophylactic measures to prevent contamination of other areas.
For a hands-on look at how Chilean growers are tackling the disease, click here.
Positioning in new markets
Cruzat says one of the weaknesses Chile once faced was that it did not reach all markets in Europe as it reached the continent through just one port of entry - the Netherlands. Today however, Chilean kiwifruit exporters have been able to better position themselves with a higher presence due to better distribution on the continent.
"Today we are arriving directly in different parts. The Mediterranean has grown signficantly, but by far the European destination that has grown at the highest level has been Russia, as one of the emerging markets," he says.
"In the case of Latin America, Mexico has remained stable and Brazil has grown steadily, becoming more and more attractive."
He says Asia is one of the fastest-growing markets for New Zealand kiwifruit, highlighting South Korea and China.
"The industry's challenge is to improve fruit prices in markets such as Europe and the U.S., so that consumers can be happy with the product. We have to think about the final consumer receiving a ripe and tasty kiwifruit, ready to eat."