Chile: "The volume of table grapes for 2024 will be between 55-60 million boxes"

February 16 , 2024

The decline in California's table grape production in 2023 gave way for exported fruit to enter the U.S. market early. This was the case of Peru and Chile, the two countries that supply the market after California.

The drop in volume from both California and Peru caused prices at the end of the year and the beginning of 2024 to be very high.

"November and December were quite high in terms of price," Raul Hiriart, sourcing manager for South America at International Fruit Company tells "The drop in production from Piura region in Peru, of approximately 30%, caused prices to rise to between $30 and $40 per box in December."

Exports from Ica were expected to supply the market and stabilize prices, however, that did not happen and prices remained above average during January.

Start of Chilean season

The first Chilean region to start exporting is Copiapó, and Hiriart warns that "Copiapó has had a reduction in volume and also a varietal change, which means that its export window has moved, the fruit is no longer harvested in November, but more towards December-January".

Further south in Ovalle, which enters production a little later, according to Hiriart "it is a miracle that this region continues to produce fruit, with the amount of water available, the water issue is tragic, therefore the start of Chilean exports was not so strong."

"To date, Chile should have harvested around 11 million boxes and we are at only 8. During weeks 5-6, Chile loaded practically no grapes to the U.S., and last season, during that period almost 14 million boxes were loaded, now we are nowhere near that," says Hiriart.

Frutas de Chile projected this season around 63 million boxes for export, however, Hiriart believes the actual volume will be between 55 and 60 million boxes.

"According to estimates, there should be about 10 million boxes left in the fourth region, and that fruit is simply not there," he adds.

Volume increase

It is estimated that shipments from weeks 7-8 will begin to increase, so the peak of the Chilean season in the U.S. market is expected in mid-March.

"Promotions in U.S. supermarkets will be key to move that volume. If the fruit arrives and there are no promotions, there will be less movement and, since it is fumigated fruit and varieties that do not last as long, sales may be a little messed up," Hiriart says.

It is expected that prices will continue to fall between now and the end of the month to settle at around US$25 per box.

So far, because there has been good movement of fruit in the U.S. market, the quality of grapes has been good.

Duration of the Chilean season

With the estimate given by Hiriart, Chile would have enough volume to supply the U.S. market throughout March.

"If the volume and movement of fruit is maintained, there could be fruit until the second week of April, but it is still early to make that projection," says Hiriart.


According to Hiriart, who was "frightened by the problems in the Panama Canal," the canal has worked better during the Chilean season and has more water available. Therefore, "I don't see that there are going to be big problems with that."

Projection for the Chilean industry

"The Chilean industry has undergone many changes in the last few years, on the one hand, the irruption of Peru with new varieties, managing the market in December-January, and on the other hand, the varietal replacement itself.

This year, 64% of shipments will be of new varieties.

"This replacement has given a second air to the industry and is placing it in a range that is healthy between 60-65 million boxes per season, with a high percentage of new varieties," says Hiriart.

The American market is more receptive to these new varieties because of their superior caliber, "the new varieties are almost all extra-large and jumbo, therefore it is better fruit, and it is easier to sell this volume."

Finally, Hiriart assures that "I see a good future for the industry, as long as we continue with the varietal replacement and adjusting the volumes to the exporters that can arrive with the new high-quality grapes."

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