Chilean apple exporters have voiced concerns over the potential knock-on effects of the U.S.-China trade war on international markets.
Marcos Echenique, commercial director at Copefrut, and Ricardo Gatti, head of pome fruit and cherries at Unifrutti, spoke with Fresh Fruit Portal about the matter and the development of the current season.
Gatti said the length of the trade war would have a huge bearing the severity of its impacts.
There may be some positives, Chilean Minister Antonio Walker pointed out, such as the optimization of phytosanitary agreements, which could help increase exports to China.
But on the other hand, Echenique explained that increased market opportunities in the Asian country may come alongside challenges elsewhere.
He said China’s higher tariffs on U.S. apples “will eventually have an effect either on the U.S. or another market”, he said.
Lower volumes sent to China will likely mean increased volumes in other destinations like the Middle East or Latin America, which are important markets for Chile, Echenique said.
However, he said: “Chile has the great strength of having access to all the main markets”, allowing it to easily change its market distribution if necessary.
2017-18 season development
As for this current campaign, the representatives say it has been fairly quiet and stable.
“In general the condition of the fruit in Chile has been good,” Echenique said.
Gatti echoed this opinion, adding that the season has seen larger volumes than last year and slightly higher pricing.
However, the season got off to a complex start both in the U.S. – where there was a large domestic supply – and in China – where Chile faced heavy competition with New Zealand.
The situation was different in Europe, where local production was much lower due to widespread frosts in the continent that affected domestic growers. Gatti said the result was unusually high demand for Chilean fruit.