Chile greatly reduces focus on U.S. apple market, boosts exports to Europe and India

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Chile greatly reduces focus on U.S. apple market, boosts exports to Europe and India

There has been a massive drop in Chilean apple exports to its leading market, the U.S., over the last couple of years, while shipments to destinations including Europe and India have shot up.

Chile's total exports through September this year were up 3% at 683,000 metric tons (MT), but to the U.S. specifically they were down 29% year-on-year at 62,000 MT, according to Odepa data.

The figure is 41% lower than the 105,000 MT of apples sent to the U.S. over the same period in 2016 (when total exports were only slightly higher than this year).

The U.S. remains Chile's leading apple export market, but only by a thin margin. Exports to the Netherlands grew by 52% to 59,000 MT, making the European country its number-two market.

There were also sharp rises to the U.K. (+44%; 41,000 MT), and Germany  (+95%; 30,000 MT). Shipments to India, meanwhile, more than doubled from 24,000 MT to 56,000 MT.

Other year-on-year variations included declines of 16% to Colombia (57,000 MT), 11% to Taiwan (48,000 MT), and 9% to Saudi Arabia (41 ,000 MT).

The significant increases to Europe this season would have likely been driven by lower European apple production during the 2017-18 season, following widespread frosts in the 2017 spring.

But Chile has also fetched much lower prices on average in the U.S. market this year. Over the nine-month period, average FOB returns for Chilean apples in the market was US$1 per kilo - which is 19% lower than last year and 16% lower than in 2016.

However, that price was still higher than those registered the Netherlands, where the sharp rise in Chilean apples was reflected in a 9% year-on-year drop to an average of US$0.87 per kilo.

Prices in the other destinations for which data is available - India, Taiwan and Colombia - showed little year-on-year variation. Prices were highest in Taiwan at an average of US$1.08 per kilo and lowest in India at US$0.74 per kilo.

Overall this year, total FOB returns for the Chilean apple industry were 2% lower year-on-year at US$607 million.

Similar market dynamics for Argentina

Chile's neighbor, Argentina, saw similar market dynamics this year with apple exports through August this year, according to Indec figures.

The country - which had increased total exports by 24% to 80,000MT through August this year - sent just 6,000 MT to the U.S., it's fourth-largest market. This marked a 38% drop from the same period in 2017.

Meanwhile, exports to Germany rose by 39% to 6,000 MT and to the Netherlands they rose by 47% to 5,000 MT.

Argentina's apple exports to its two largest markets also saw significant increases, with volumes to Russia up 58% at 17,000 MT and to Brazil up 90% at 13,000 MT.

Correction: The figures in this article had earlier had been written as metric tons (MT) but had in fact referred to kilograms. This has now been corrected.

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