Chile’s fresh fruit business has been whip-lashed the past weeks by the 8.8 earthquake which struck February 27, at the height of the fresh fruit export season. Large shipments of table grapes - roughly four million cases - and other fruit had to be stored while authorities worked over time to get port facilities operating again.
With Chile fruit stuck in storage, grapes prices in Chile primary table grape market, the United Status, soared to between US$20 and US$30 per box.
But with Chile San Antonio and Valparaiso ports fully operational, exporters are rushing to get their ever-ripening, backlogged fruit to the U.S. market, where importers are now projecting a considerable price drop to US$15 to US$25 per box because of projected oversupplies.
“And these prices will continue to drop through the second week of April,” commented Dole Chile CEO Pablo Vicuña.
Complicating Chile’s table grape export scenario even more is the fact that US marketing orders take effect on April 10 – severely limiting the amount of Chilean grapes that can be legally exported to the US. The marketing orders are designed to protect California early table grape deal from competitors like Chile.
Chilean officials have appealed to US authorities to extend the marketing order cut-off date from April 10 to April 30, but so far U.S. authorities have not responded. Logistical considerations are such that approval of a marketing order delay would have had to have occurred last week to be of any real value to Chile’s table grape exporters.
By Steve Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org)