Jorge Valenzuela, president of Fedefruta:

Chile: "The grape sector needs important structural changes"

"We need important structural changes (in the table grape) if we want the large supermarkets to continue purchasing our fruit," stated Jorge Valenzuela, the president of Fedefruta, in an editorial at the Revista del Campo magazine.

This is his column:

Last week the table grape harvest in the Copiapo Valley started, marking the beginning of a season that will be commercially complex. The sector is already aware that there is an oversupply in North America because California producers couldn't send their fruit to China due to the trade war between both countries, and many of them opted (note: prior to the agreed truce) to distribute their grapes at the local level. Peru is also recovering its volumes, and our product will coincide with their production in the US when we arrive there.

This situation reminds us of the 2016-2017 season, when a large percentage of our table grape shipments arrived to that market ahead of schedule and saturated it, which led to a backlog of fruit, much lower prices and returns than expected, which triggered a social crisis, such as the one experienced in the province of Limari.

That being said, in the next few days we'll have the 2018 table grape analysis of liquidations, where we'll announce what the average returns producers have achieved are. However, we can already anticipate that the outlook in some varieties and zones is complex. This shows that the situation of the Chilean table grape goes beyond the conjunctures of each season because it is permanent, and that we need important structural changes if we want the large supermarkets to continue purchasing our fruit.

We made a stop in the contingency due to the hailstorm, in mid-November, to be part of the Table Grape Day in San Esteban, where the agricultural guilds of the Andes and San Felipe had invited experts from Uvanova, authorities, and hundreds of producers to discuss the main issues affecting the sector.

We talked about the need for a well-designed reconversion, as the retail sector demands different varieties and fruit with other characteristics, financing alternatives for this task, and decisive actions, as the Chilean table grape sector can't wait any longer to recover its competitiveness.

Source: El Mercurio /

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