Chile launches grape export season

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Chile launches grape export season

The Chilean table grape export season is now officially underway after an opening ceremony was held at the Tres Soles farm in the northern Atacama region. Seremis - Atacama 1

The Copiapó Valley Exporters Association expects the season's shipments to reach 13 million boxes, a total figure that is not expected to be impacted by the frosts that hit Chile in September or the region's labor shortages.

During the launch, Regional Ministerial Secretary for Agriculture, Alex Madariaga told attendees he hoped growers would have a successful season.

"We are witness to the first boxes that are coming out of the valley [Copiapó], the first boxes from Chile. We are here because we expect that it will be an excellent season, which has had all the conditions so that for our Chilean products, especially grapes from this valley, enjoy good prices in a market that is demanding fresh fruit of the quality we have in this region," Madariaga said.

Agriculture and Livestock Secretariat (SAG) regional director Eduardo Monreal said fruit was in good condition like in previous season.

"Soon the first ships will be taking off to the United States, which is the main market for the fruit produced in the Atacama. This year not only will it embark from the port of Caldera, but efforts will be integrated in the port of Las Lozas in Huasco, which will ship fruit from the Huasco Valley and also from Coquimbo."

There are currently 7,500 hectares of land dedicated to table grape production in the Atacama, with the fruit representing just under half of the region's agricultural surface area

Grower Alfonso Prohens said he was confident that 2013-14 would be positive for producers in the region, with grapes arriving in the United States before Christmas.

"This year we will have an increase in production and price expectations will stay equal compared to last year, which was good and was lacking in boxes," he said.

"In terms of yields and production in the valley, it's all good. We are content with the work undertaken and now we just have the most important part, harvesting the grapes and packing them well so that the fruit arrives to consumers in different parts of the world."

Growers in the region send around 70% of their table grapes to the United States.

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