Chilean kiwifruit volumes plummet in Japan, South Korea

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Chilean kiwifruit volumes plummet in Japan, South Korea

Chilean kiwifruit exports to Japan and South Korea have taken a dramatic slide this year, despite a stable situation in other markets that have reacted positively to the country's ripening and quality programs. kiwi_73936477 _ panorama

Chilean Kiwifruit Committee president Carlos Cruzat told the country's worldwide export deal was in line with initial season estimates to be down 7% year-on-year, having recuperated after a five-day harvest delay and the impacts of port strikes.

He highlighted that markets like Europe, the U.S. and China had all been stable, while orchard surveillance programs across production regions showed standards of key quality factors like acidity, soluble solids, dry matter, brix and shape, to help understand the evolution of these parameters.

He added fruit sizing was better this year because of smooth weather conditions in spring and summer.

"Overall what we see is a curve of shipments from Chile that has been flatter as more exporters are using controlled atmosphere storage in their programs with supermarkets so they can basically have six months of supply," Cruzat said.

There has however been an anomaly to the overall trend for Chilean kiwifruit. The committee fought hard to catch out New Zealand kiwifruit marketer Zespri for monopolistic behavior in South Korea in 2011, but once again Chilean exporters are facing difficulties in the East Asian country and its neighbor Japan.

In the season to week 22, Chilean kiwifruit exporters sent 2,345MT to South Korea compared to 4,467MT for the same period in 2012. For Japan, the figure was 684MT compared to 1,425MT for the same timeframe in 2012.

"At one moment in Korea the gondola had swung to us having around 70% of the market, but then there was a counter response from Zespri both there and in Japan, where they aggressively sought to have more of their own green kiwifruit in the market to replace Chile.

"We have a situation where our exporters have good quality kiwifruit and want to ship, but they find it very difficult.

"I would ask that Japanese importers become aware of this situation that a 50% fall like this is not a coincidence. There is always some space to be lost to loyal competition, but we have a precedent of Zespri going beyond its limits in Asia from what we've seen in Korea and China."

In nearby China, the market had received 6,076MT of Chilean kiwifruit compared to 6,100MT in 2012 and 5,585MT in 2011.

Cruzat also highlighted the substantial efforts undertaken by the committee with Chilean industry in ripening programs and quality metrics, which also needed collaboration with importers.

As part of this, the committee will be hosting educational workshops with importers in the Netherlands on July 10, so that Chile's partners or potential partners can improve fruit handling.

"This needs the efforts of exporters and importers to manage the fruit so we can achieve this great flavor, educating them that if they use ripening programs then consumers will appreciate the product more, there will be repeat purchases, and this leads to year-on-year rises in the rotation of kiwifruit through supermarkets."



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