The Chilean Agriculture Minister on Thursday announced the beginning of the 2018-19 fresh fruit export season, with expectations of a 17% rise in volume.
Antonio Walker visited Exportadora Prize in Requínoa, in the O’Higgins Region, to supervise the dispatch of a cherry shipment that will arrive in China in around a month.
“Is very exciting to start this fruit season … We hope to have a very successful campaign. We are going to increase our exports by more than 17% this year, meaning that the social impact that this sector has on the country’s economy will be significant,” he said.
He also spoke about the confidence that some markets such as China have in Chile, as well as growth potential in other areas.
“We see that the export potential in the Middle and the Far East is really powerful. We want to double our agricultural exports in the next ten years,” he added.
He highlighted that the sector exports some 5 million metric tons of products worth around US$6.5 billion worth to more than 140 countries.
The start of the export season is being viewed with optimism, despite the recent hail storm that affected numerous fruit-growing regions.
“We believe that it will be an interesting season. Last year we had an export record that exceeded all expectations,” said Alejandro García Huidobro, general manager of Exportadora Prize.
“The great challenge we have is how to continue improving our product, how to continue innovating, how to keep arriving with a better container and a better cold chain to the final consumer,” he added.
Walker added that there were two ‘red zones’ that had been affected by the hail, deemed to be the most heavily affected. One is in the O’Higgins region and the other in Maule.
“We are talking about a damage of US$100 million,” he said.
Ronald Bown, president of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (Asoex), explained that some growers had lost all of their production.
“In global terms we believe that there is a figure no higher than US$150 million that will be lost, but that does not necessarily have an effect from the point of view of exports, given that, faced with a lower supply, the Chinese market will expect us to have fewer cherries, so the price is likely to increase,” Bown explained.
He said that total fruit production losses from the hail shouldn’t be higher than 7%, with total exports expected to decline by 3%.
Photo: Minagri Chile.