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"The export windows for Chilean grapes are getting smaller"

"Chilean grape exporters need to give a boost to varietal development"

"The export windows for Chilean grapes are getting increasingly smaller and competition is on-going throughout the season," stated Christian Corssen, general manager of Compañía Frutera Santa María, Chile, who was present at the London Produce Show. "The start of our season overlaps with California and Peru, and then come India and South Africa, which are becoming more competitive."

Corssen spoke about the strengths and weaknesses of the grape sector in his country. "I think the Chilean grape sector is in need of change. For many years, we have become accustomed to dominating the table grape markets between December and May, and nowadays we are no longer alone, so we have to be much more competitive. We must give a boost to the development of new varieties; that is one of our main challenges, and I think we have fallen far behind in comparison with other producing countries. Also, I believe that Chile has to focus again on the quality of its fruit rather than on the volumes. And lastly, I think that Chilean exporters should bet on the development of new markets in the Far East in which Chile is already entering, such as Malaysia, Vietnam or Indonesia.

The fact is that the Far East has become the second most important market for Chile, behind the United States, with significant growth in countries such as China and South Korea. The secret to success in China, according to Christian Corssen, is "to send the right fruit. The results achieved in this market can be very good when the fruit arrives as requested by the clients, but if you are shipping fruit to China as an alternative market because you could not sell the fruit elsewhere, the results can be disastrous."

At the same time, it is important to understand the mentality of the buyers in this market, which works very differently to Europe and the United States, where, according to Corssen, "there is a marketing chain in place in which retailers play an important role. The way to market the fruit in China is quite different. It is important to travel and know first-hand what customers want."

As an anecdote, Corssen recalls that "years ago, we thought that if every Chinese consumed a red globe grape in China, we would have all our production placed, and we were wrong there, because the percentage of red globe grapes suitable for the Chinese market is quite small, be it for their colour, size, uniformity or other characteristics they are looking for. Like many other markets, they have a very clear idea of what they want and are willing to pay for it.

Chile still has significant volumes of red globe grapes available, which will surely be sold in certain markets where grapes with seeds are traditionally consumed. However, current trends favour the development of new seedless varieties. "We expect the new generations to buy only seedless grapes in the near future," assures the exporter.

Regarding the London Produce Show, Christian stated that "the UK, and Europe in general, is one of the most important markets for Chilean grapes. This is a very good time to come to this country. On the one hand, it gives us a chance to meet with our customers at the end of our grape campaign, and on the other, as exporters licensed by SunWorld, we are able to promote the new varieties that we have. It is a perfect meeting place where we can get up to date with what's happening in Europe, which is quite far from Chile, as well as with what's going on with our competitors in this market."

For more information:
Christian Corssen J.
Compañía Frutera Santa María
Bajos de Matte Nº565
Casilla 251, Buin. Chile
Mob: +569 98221514
Tel: +562 23039220

Publication date: 6/19/2017


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