Chile: Fruit exports diverted from Port of Valparaiso during month-long strike

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Chile: Fruit exports diverted from Port of Valparaiso during month-long strike

A strike at one of Chile's most important ports has resulted in a huge amount of fruit being diverted further south in the country to be exported.

Workers have been on strike over working conditions for around a month at the Port of Valparaiso in central Chile, which has resulted in fruit exports sent from that location dropping by 90% during the opening stages of the 2018-19 season.

At the same time, fruit exports from the Port of San Antonio, another major port in the Valparaiso region, have increased ten-fold over the same period.

However, the president of the Federation of Fruit Exporters (Fedefruta), Jorge Valenzuela, told Fresh Fruit Portal that there have not been any lost exports as a result of the situation.

"We are in the first third of the export season, but with these volumes and with this strategy, San Antonio has been able to move the cargo without any problems," he said.

According to figures from Odepa, since the strike began a little over 5.2 million metric tons (MT) of fruit have been exported through the Port of Valparaiso, while 79 million MT has been sent through the Port of San Antonio.

However, over the same period last year, 60 million MT was sent through the former and just 7.3 million MT through the latter.

While Valenzuela said that no fruit exports had been lost, he highlighted there were additional costs involved in moving the cargo to a different port.

"The transportation costs have risen and there are a series of logistical costs related to the internal movement as we wait for the strikes to be resolved and the ships to get the green light to depart," he said.

He added that storage capacity in Chile is limited, which could complicate the situation going forward.

The Fedefruta president also emphasized the need for a law that guarantees the transportation of perishable goods.

"We can't put at risk Chile's fresh products, of which there are large volumes," he said, mentioning that there was a law like that in the U.S. "We need to think bigger and be a little bit more developed in that sense."

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