With the Chilean kiwifruit season underway, official forecasts have dropped since the first estimates in February, but the industry is expecting better sizing and dry matter levels than last year.
A year-on-year drop of around 5% had been anticipated earlier this year, but Chilean Kiwifruit Committee president Carlos Cruzat recently told FreshFruitPortal.com that volumes will likely be up to 15% lower.
Representatives of key exporters also have a similar outlook, with Oscar Villegas, commercial manager of Subsole, expecting a drop of 12% to 13%, and Marcos Echenique, commercial manager of Copefrut, forecasting a 15% to 20% decline.
But the final figures will depend heavily on the weather over the next couple of months, they say.
Echenique said that the lower forecast is due to unfavorable weather conditions over the last few months, but Cruzat expected the quality to be higher than the historic average.
In terms of markets, Villegas said that China has been a pleasant surprise this year.
“China is the only market that has started off better than last year. Chinese kiwifruit stocks are lower, allowing space for the first Chilean fruit that arrived, which has fetched better opening prices,” he said.
Echenique added that current conditions in the European market are unfavorable due to heavy remaining stocks of Greek and Italian fruit.
“Italy grew quite a lot this year compared to last year and so there’s more pressure, especially in terms of European stocks, which has also been felt in shipments from Europe to other markets like the Middle East or the U.S.,” he said.
He expected the large stocks to stick around in Europe throughout May.
“I don’t think Chilean sales in Europe are going to start until around June, but the problem is that in June there is European summer fruit which is cheap – melons, watermelons, peaches,” he said.
“So the summer months in Europe are quite complicated.”