Chile: Atacama table grape volumes edge closer to pre-flood levels
Lingering Californian stocks and the production of new varieties are two factors set to affect northern Chile’s table grape season, which started a few days ago and is set to yield 11.5 million boxes.
Agricola Tres Soles S.A. of grower Alfonso Prohens initiated the first harvests for the Atacama region deal, with other growers set to follow suit in week 46.
In conversation with www.freshfruitportal.com, Copiapó Valley Agricultural Producers and Exporters Association (APECO) president Lina Arrieta said the estimate was similar to the 12 million boxes registered in the 2014-15 season, which in its last days was marked by floods that damaged vines for the 2015-16 campaign.
Arrieta said there was uncertainty around the U.S. market given the high levels of stocks remaining from California that will probably remain until November, generating lower prices year-on-year as a result.
"It can be expected that the market will be more receptive to white grapes in December, and to reds at the end of December and going forward. If the dollar continues rising, the same high prices from last season will be reached," she said.
She also alluded to a rise in the Chilean peso thanks to a recent increase in the copper price, which coincided with the election of Donald Trump for President of the United States.
Arrieta said the copper price had risen 15% in the past five days, leading to a significant appreciation in the Chilean peso against the dollar, which disadvantages exports compared to the same period last year.
Peruvian table grapes are also present in the North American market, but Arrieta said it was important to note production was lower year-on-year for Chile's Andean neighbor.
She said early table grapes set to be harvested in the Copiapó Valley until mid-December showed high levels of quality.
"From then on production should be within expectations. There are a lot of new plantings that will enter into commercial production this season and there was also renewal of vines, so it is difficult to predict what the valley's total production will be," she said.
In terms of developments, she said there would be greater production of new varieties like Arra 15, Timco and others.
"The first harvest is starting for renewed varieties planted three years ago, but this incipient production will not bein important volumes."