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Chile witnesses Russian ‘revolution’

Russia is evolving into a key European consumer of Chilean fruit as the Latin American exporter continues to parry the effects of unfavourable weather conditions. The reawakening economic giant looks set to remain Chile’s No. 3 European market, in a challenging season that could see overall Chilean apple and table grape exports dip by 2.6 percent and 16 percent respectively according to a forecast by Santiago-based fruit industry service provider Decofrut.

Overall exports of Chilean fresh fruit to Russia in 2006-2007 totalled 64,770 tonnes, year-on-year growth of 31.5 percent. The two biggest-selling products were – and will be again this year – table grapes and apples, the latter helped by good stock movement in Europe.

Christian Carvajal, the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) Europe – Asia Marketing Manager, said: “Europe is evolving as a market for imported fruit and Russia is certainly one of the more dynamic facets. The growth of retail penetration and demand there spells good news for all growers and exporters.”

Decofrut reported that for 2007-2008 prospects are again good in Russia, whose economy has been growing at a brisk pace since 2000. Exports of apples, which got off to a later than usual start, should once again be up. “This season has been especially favourable for the southern hemisphere, in part thanks to the good movement of European apples during their season which explains the strong demand observed in eastern markets, especially Russia,” commented Manuel José Alcaino, President of Decofrut.

“This situation could have been a consequence of the 47% drop in production in Poland, the principal provider in the region, and of the reduction in exports from China.”

In terms of overall apple exports to Europe, a good season is forecast for Braeburn and Red Delicious. The unexpected rain in March has had an impact on the size and colouring of Royal Galas harvested in and around the Metropolitan Region this year. The total exportable Royal Gala deal should be approximately 265,000 tonnes, 10 percent less than in 2006-2007, Decofrut estimated.

In terms of table grapes, exports to Russia, as of early April, were up by 21 percent, to 29,000 tonnes. The news is a symbolic reprieve for the world’s No. 1 exporter of the fruit. Like apples, part of the table grape harvest has been affected by unseasonable weather – this time a cold snap late in 2007 which delayed harvesting of big-seller Thomson White Seedless.

However, Decofrut estimated that in 2006-2007 Chile will still export over 690,000 tonnes, thanks in part to strong sales of Red Globe and Sugarone in Chile’s main table grape market, the US.

Ronald Bown, the President of the Chilean Exporters Association, declared: “The current season is presenting unique challenges for sectors of our industry, which has grown steadily and successfully for 20 years now. The fact that we are faced with these conditions and are still set to harvest and ship nearly 700,000 tonnes of table grapes, for example, is a credit to our growers’ commitment to our global fresh fruit partners.”

More information:
More information:
Chilean Fresh Fruit Association
Lianne Jones
European Field Manager
t: + 44 (0) 113 237 3014
m: + 44 (0) 7916 178 329
f: + 44 (0) 113 266 7723
a: 100 Wellington St, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 4LT, United Kingdom

Publication date: 5/30/2008


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