Producers expect that Chile's fruit sector will be good thanks to the winter rains and temperatures in recent months, especially for the species that didn't fare so well in past seasons, such as table grapes, and blueberries.
Juan Carlos Sepulveda, the General Manager of Fedefruta, said the quality of the production should be much better than in previous campaigns because of the weather. "Export prices and volumes will also benefit from the weather conditions that we had during winter and spring."
Cherries, the star of the season
Cherries will be the Chilean star fruit in foreign markets in the 2017/2018 season, as cherry production is expected to increase by up to 50%, reaching more than 30 million boxes, a record harvest compared to the 18 million boxes that were registered the previous campaign.
According to Sepulveda, "there are new plantations that should start producing this season, so the projection is for all of them to develop their full potential, which will help the sector recover from the past seasons."
The most important market will continue to be China, which takes almost 90% of the production of Chilean cherries, followed by the US and European markets.
Stone fruits are expected to have a normal season
Cristian Allendes, the Director and former president of Fedefruta, said the stone season would be normal in both prices and volume. According to forecasts, there will be a smaller volume of peaches and nectarines will continue increase, as they have done in recent seasons, consolidating themselves as one Chile's important species.
"The thinnings have been good for nectarines and, since this year the fruit will be available at a normal date, or even a little bit late compared to a couple of years ago, producers would have normal sizes for the varieties. This is the complete opposite of what happened in the previous season, when the harvests started early," Allendes said.
"We expect prices to behave normally this season in traditional markets, such as the United States, Asia and Europe, with a strong emphasis on China," he added.
Caution in table grapes
Maria Ines Figari, the Director Secretary of Fedefruta, said that they expected it would be a positive season, even though they had just enough production and there would be a one week delay in the production. "We have exactly the number of bunches needed."
However, she is not that optimistic when asked about the prices they expect for the current campaign. "We have a lot of uncertainty regarding price, we have looked for new markets, but nothing is clear," she said.
Faced with this uncertainty, Figari said expectations for the table grape industry shouldn't be too high. "We'll have to wait and see. Either way, we should focus on working the fruit. To be competitive abroad it must have a very good quality and condition," she said.
The bad experiences of table grape producers with the US market during the 2016/2017 season has led them to seek and discover new markets. As a result, Figari said, the sector has found new opportunities, especially in Asia. "Countries like China, Korea, Malaysia, and Dubai are opening spaces for Chilean fruit. In general, producers are starting to send more production to the Asian continent and to Europe than to the United States. The lesson we learned from such a terrible season is that we have to diversify the markets," she added.