Even though Chile is the second largest exporter of citrus fruits in the southern hemisphere after South Africa and is expected to export an estimated 344,000 tons this season, competition between traditional producing and exporting countries, such as South Africa, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, and Australia, is growing. Juan Enrique Ortuzar, the president of the Citrus Committee, took advantage of the imminent opening of the Chinese market in 2020 to ask national citrus growers and exporters to continue growing in quality and to maintain the prestige of Chile's citrus fruits worldwide.
The growing competition with the exporting countries of the southern hemisphere is one of the challenges that the citrus industry faces. According to Ortuzar, maintaining Chilean citrus fruits in the market and being able to increase their participation can only be done if the country has a reliable volume and consistent quality. The fruit must be optimal, without seeds, and have a great quality.
The chairman of the Citrus Committee emphasized that the ripeness of the harvest must be right. "Producers must be careful not to compromise the fruit's quality when trying to enter the market early, as - sometimes - the fruit isn't in the best conditions."
New market: China
Another of the challenges for the Citrus Committee is to look for new markets, as exports are currently focused on the US market. The sector must also diversify into new products that are attractive to other markets.
China is a new market and exporters must get to know it better. The sector must find out what the Chinese tastes and preferences are because the Chilean industry is very US-oriented in its products, as it already knows the quality and varieties that consumers in the US market prefer. "It is very likely that Chinese preferences are different, so we'll have to get to know the market and look for the options that are most attractive for it," the executive said.
Ortuzar also recalled that the Chinese market hadn't been opened yet. "We are going to have to comply with a very strict protocol and we'll have to prepare the orchards to be able to comply with these protocols and be able to export. The demands are high, the challenge for producers and exporters is to have consistency and quality."
Source: Comité de Cítricos/simfruit.cl