U.S.-bound exports surged to further cement the country's position as the leading market for Chilean fruit, while the Netherlands lost ground as the port of call in Europe.
Chilean fruit exports were up 4.3% in 2016-17 to reach almost 2.6 million metric tons (MT), but the campaign was marked by challenges arising from earlier harvests for most crops.
The Chilean Fruit Exporters Association's (ASOEX) recently released figures show the United States continued to be the top market by country with growth of 9.7% to 869,296MT, followed by China (including Hong Kong) which saw a slight drop in volume down to 231,647MT.
The gap in export volumes between the country's two leading fruit commodities, grapes and red apples, widened with the former increasing 6.5% to 732,498MT and the latter down 5.4% at 616,694MT.
Avocados rose from fifth to fourth place courtesy of a 36.5% year-on-year volume increase to 163,600MT, coming in behind kiwifruit which had a slight drop of 3.4% to 179,393MT.
Other fruits that saw export increases included pears (+17.1%; 148,940MT), blueberries (+13.7%; 103,897MT), cherries (+13.8%; 95,342MT), lemons (+13.1%; 82,526MT), oranges (+3.6%; 77,919MT), mandarins (+37.1%; 75,973MT) and nectarines (+8.2%; 62,107MT).
But the news of higher volumes, as is often the case in the fruit industry, was not entirely positive.
"Despite the fact that overall shipments were greater than in the previous year, the season was affected by adverse climatic conditions for the fruit industry, such as unexpected frosts and rains which had effects on production and overseas shipments," ASOEX president Ronald Bown said in a release.
"To that can be added that in this campaign practically all fruit types had earlier harvests of between two to three weeks, which meant exports started earlier and because of that they coincided with local production and supply from other countries," he said.
The executive highlighted this dynamic had a negative effect on the behavior of markets, and the situation was particularly complicated in the United States.
And while the figure was higher than last year, it was still short of the 2.65 billion MT achieved in 2012-13. The release did not provide details of export returns, as the association's key focus for the report was the changes in shipment figures.
Like the USA, the European market saw a sharp uptick in imports of Chilean fresh fruit, jumping 8.7% to 596,891MT. But shifts within the old continent were pronounced.
Leading European importer and re-exporter the Netherlands saw a 17% decline in volume arrivals to 186,704MT, giving way to sharp rises in Chilean fruit imports in other EU markets such as Germany (+144%; 57,181MT), Spain (+27.8%; 47,933MT), Italy (+12.7%; 39,693MT), France (+51%; 33,219MT) and Belgium (+116.9%; 11,214MT).
England retained its spot as the second-largest European market for Chilean fruit, holding steady with a 0.9% increase to 107,859MT, while Russia was the third-largest European market receiving 72,912MT representing a 29.2% rise.
Meanwhile, even though exports to Eastern markets were down slightly at 479,620MT, the 0.6% reduction was mainly due to reduced exports to the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, and to a lesser extent India.
Upward movements were seen in Taiwan, China (+5.8%; 70,447MT), South Korea (+4.2%; 45,726MT), Japan (+15.5%; 33,909MT), Indonesia (+81.5%; 8,625MT) and Thailand (+13.9%; 6,119MT).
Exports to the Middle East were down 8% at 90,117MT, Latin America's intake dropped 2.2% to 506,188MT mainly due to a sharp drop in exports to Brazil, while Canada's imports rose 6.4% to 55,637MT.
In terms of export origin, there was a rather dramatic change in the ports where produce was shipped from in 2016-17.
Leading port Valparaiso increased its volumes by a whopping 40.1% to 1.59 million MT, while San Antonio's volume was down 38.9% at 543,593MT.
Meanwhile, recovery from damages caused by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami led to a 200% uptick in exports from the port of Coquimbo, according to ASOEX.
In addition, the opening of a USDA-approved phytosanitary inspection site in Cabrero spurred a 30.5% uptick in exports from the Port of Coronel south of Concepción, which is close to a major region for the production of blueberries, cherries and apples.