Fruit growers, packers and pickers in Argentina have ended their strike in the western part of the country, but the damage may have already been done with strike costs estimated at US $50 million, according to local and national media.
The unions for the three segments of workers reached final salary increase agreements with the government and each other over last to end road blocks on roads in Río Negro and Neuquén provinces in western Argentina, according to news website ADN.
The strike came when Williams pears hit their peak condition for export, with blockades leaving much of the fruit either unharvested or unstored, according to national newspaper La Nación.
Unpicked fruit is now too ripe for export, according to La Nación.
“The situation becomes more serious hour by hour because this week was the critical week for the pear harvest for export, and our estimates are that we have between $45 million and $50 million in losses,” Marcelo Loyarte, manager of the Argentina Chamber of Integrated Fruitgrowers,” is quoted as saying in La Nación. “This is without counting collateral damage, which at this moment is difficult to measure.”
Forecasts for the season called for a production increase of 23% with better quality than last season. Additionally, export conditions were optimal because of the reduction in production in the Northern Hemisphere. Pear and apple exports were expected to total 350,000 metric tons between January and April, according to La Nación.