Argentina concerned over rise in Chilean apple imports
A sharp rise in Chilean apple exports to neighboring Argentina has caused concern among local growers that domestic market prices could ultimately be affected.
Argentine Chamber of Integrated Fruit Growers (CAFI) executive director Marcelo Loyarte told Fresh Fruit Portal while the volume had been steadily growing, there had been a spike this year.
"In general, over the last few years there haven't been any heavy volumes, no more than two or three trucks, but this year we have received more than a million kilos. Compared with other years, this is obviously significantly higher," he said.
He explained Chile was mainly exporting red varieties to Argentina.
According to Loyarte, the Argentina apple industry is 'worried' as to whether this trend will continue or not, and what the impact will be on market prices.
"We have to monitor what happens next, to see whether or not the volumes rise and what the market impact will be," he said.
"While this year there is a little less supply from Argentina, I believe that as imports continue the impact on prices will be felt both by imported and local fruit."
A series of frosts in October 2016 are largely to blame for the decrease in Argentine production this year.
"CAFI's position is very clear - we support the free market and free competition, and so we don't want to ask the government to take action. We cannot ask for something that we don't want any market in the world to do to us," he said.
"What we do want is to be able to compete in comparable conditions. The phytosanitary question is important and we hope that Senasa [the National Food Health and Quality Service] is doing all the necessary monitoring and that customs is also monitoring the entrance prices, as well as the export prices."
He said the recent imports were the initial volumes of the season, "which is why we still don't have a clear idea of what the prices will be."
"The import volume began to increase in the last month, it has not been a constant variable," he said.
According to statistics from Chile's ODEPA, apple exports from January to May 2016 to Argentina were 27 metric tons (MT), while this year over the same period they were 950MT.
However, exponential growth usually takes place between May and June.