Industry reacts to approval of Systems Approach for Chilean grapes

July 09 , 2024

Following the approval of the Systems Approach protocol for the export of Chilean table grapes from the Atacama, Coquimbo and Valparaíso regions to the United States, members of the industry in both countries have had various reactions.

On the one hand, Chilean producers and exporters, satisfied after more than 20 years of bilateral work, say that exporting without the need to fumigate with methyl bromide - in exchange for a series of mitigation measures at source - could increase the value of the fruit by between 40 and 45%. According to projections, this will mean better positioning in the United States and a level playing field with other suppliers, such as Peru.

However, even though many are celebrating, the protocol is still awaiting its official publication by the U.S. Federal Registrar and Chilean National Congress. 

Andres Rodriguez, the agricultural attaché of the Chilean embassy in the United States, who has in the past expressed his support for the approval of the Systems Approach, told that this is great news. 

"From a regulatory standpoint, even though we heard the approval from USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsack and the U.S. ambassador to Chile, Bernadette M. Meehan, we still need the regulatory process to conclude," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is confident that the protocol will be published within the next few weeks, and that nothing should alter the process at this point. 

Overall, he believes the approval is positive both for Chilean producers and exporters as well as for importers in the U.S. because the grapes arriving now will be of better quality. 

"Commercially, a higher quality fruit is good for everyone involved, because the offer is stable under better conditions," he said. 

Similarly, David Espinosa, president of International Fruit Company Co. said the approval is positive for Chilean growers and importers as well. 

Asked about how this might affect table grape growers in California he assured that it does not affect them at all. 

Contrasting perspectives

In November of 2023, California Table Grape Commission President Kathleen Nave responded to the continuous pressure exerted by the Chilean table grape sector to obtain approval for the Systems Approach exports protocol.

Nave indicated that the California industry is encouraging USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to permanently abandon approval, deeming it a "risky proposal".

California growers said, at the time, that many invasive pests could travel, which would mean a significant risk of potentially devastating infestations on wine, raisin, and table grape crops across the U.S. 

This response was a reaction to a letter sent by twenty U.S. importers to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, requesting that the USDA urgently publish the Systems Approach for Chilean table grapes. 

"If the Systems Approach is not published in the Federal Register, this will negatively impact everyone involved in the Chilean grape industry, whether in Chile or the U.S., We look forward to its upcoming approval, as it not only represents a great advance for the long-standing economic relationship between Chile and the United States but, more importantly, benefits U.S. consumers,” the importers said back in November 2023.

 Other sources from the industry have expressed their concern about the approval, saying that it should be science - and not political pressure - that brings a final decision to change Chilean grape fumigation rules.

They have said that if the phytosanitary and quarantine measures are unsound, bad things can happen to their farms in the U.S.

Chilean exporters are aware of these concerns and understand the importance of having adequate regulations and inspection processes in place to prevent any pests from entering the United States.

In this context, Dragomir Lujbetic the vice president of Uvanova told that the Systems Approach not only means that the fruit will arrive in better condition but it also opens the door to many people or investors who were waiting to invest, especially in table grapes.

Speaking directly to Chilean exporters he said, "Let's not go crazy because if they find a pig larva, quarantine or not, it will delay the process. Let's do things properly, with an open mind, which benefits everyone."

"We cannot afford to spoil this tremendous possibility," he said. 

Related article: Chile will be able to export table grapes to the U.S. with Systems Approach

Use of this website constitutes acceptance of the legal notice and privacy policy of Fresh Fruit Portal. © 2008 - 2024