Chilean fruit exports fell 9% in the 2017 calendar year due to a mix of volume and pricing challenges for some of its biggest earners such as grapes, cherries and blueberries.
The latest statistics from Chile’s Office of Agricultural Research and Policy (ODEPA) show fresh fruit exports dropped to US$4.76 billion, of which around one in every four dollars earned came from table grapes.
Volume for the year was down just 2% at 2.65 million MT with almost a third of the fruit sent to the U.S.
While grapes were the second-leading crop by volume – and were just edged out by apples – they retained top spot with US$1.2 billion in revenue, representing a 12% reduction in value while volume was only down by 1% at 704,236 metric tons (MT).
Chilean apple exports saw a 6% drop in both volume (716,060MT) and value (US$661.9 million), while the falls were more pronounced in the country’s third- and fourth-highest earning fruit export crops – cherries and blueberries.
Cherry shipment volumes fell 31% to 81,539MT with exports down further still by 42% at US$491 million, while the country’s blueberry shipment volume dropped 23% to 88,058MT and exports fell 29% to US$459 million.
The situation was a bit brighter for Chile’s fifth- and sixth-ranked fruit crops, avocados and citrus, which saw export revenues rise by 20% (US$446 million) and 12% (US$330 million) respectively.
Average pricing stayed strong for these two fruits despite the added volume as well, as percentage rises in tonnage were either equal to or lower than the increase rate in returns.
Chilean kiwifruit exports jumped by 18% to US$201 million when the country’s supply was only 3% lower at 175,933MT, while pear exports rose 16% to US$141 million and volume was up 18% at 151,622MT.
And while fresh plum export volume was down by 16% (97,221MT), exports only fell by 8% at US$138 million.
The U.S. remained Chile’s leading fruit export market by far with 828,365MT received; a level that was around to 600,000MT more than either China or the Netherlands, which imported 244,846MT and 222,207MT respectively.
The U.S. market only saw a 3% reduction in its volume imports of Chilean fruit but the value of that fruit tumbled 19% to US$1.4 billion.
However, this was still almost double that of China which purchased US$768 million worth of Chilean fruit (representing a 30% drop) and almost four times that of the Netherlands (-8%; US$374 million).
The fourth-largest market in terms of returns for Chilean fruit was the U.K. with US$220 million (-7%), followed by Italy which saw a surge of 18% in Chilean fruit imports up to US$165 million.
In volume terms the ranking was fairly similar, except for Colombia’s position in fourth place, having increased its intake of Chilean fruit by 5% and overtaking the U.K. to reach 114,450MT.