The past week’s intensely cold weather has hit farm in central and southern Chile hard, especially those growing fruits and vegetables. Production is expected to drop sharply and there has already been a 20% rise in fruit and vegetable prices.
Chile’s National Federation of Fruit Producers (Fedefruta) confirmed that in certain regions, avocados and citrus fruits (mainly oranges) have been severely affected, as much as 30 to 40% of producing orchards. Still, no statistics have been released on monetary damage.
Until this recent spell of bad weather, fruit and vegetable growers had been anticipating a bonanza year. Instead, orange exporters will most likely face a reduction of around 40% in exports, while avocadoes exporters are expecting an overall 15% production decline.
Although exports and sales are down, Valledor Trade, the main distribution centre in Santiago, ruled out the possibility of a supply shortage. Nevertheless, the low temperatures will ensure smaller supplies.
Fedefruta Vice President Cristian Allendes noted that the loss in production volumes would be at least partially offset by increased prices. “Usually with these types of losses, prices will be raised by 25%, which minimizes the damage,” he said.
Agriculture Minister José Antonio Galilea assured prices should not increase for consumers.
“Depending on the areas, the agricultural sector is of course prepared for low temperatures at this time of year,” Galilea said. “Crops, in general, are fallow this time of the year, and we do not expect significant effects because of low temperatures.”
By Radhika Sanghani - Santiago Times