Chilean company Frutasol is currently in the middle of their apple season, which has been going well so far. The company started harvesting in the beginning of February, finishing up the harvest at the end of May and packing until July or August. The company is currently harvesting their Granny and Red Delicious and will begin with the Pink Lady apples in a month.
Demand remains steady
While the Chilean government has already taken strong measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus, Frutasol fortunately has remained untouched so far. Marco Dürbeck says: “The demand is remaining steady for our products. Our exports aren’t focused on Asia, so we haven’t experienced any losses on the demand side there. We also haven’t seen a spike in demand from Europe or North America, even though there has been much panic-buying there.”
Whether the demand might be affected in the future is unsure. “The panic-buying might relax next week, or it could go on for another month and a half. We don’t know, but we don’t expect the demand to slow down for at least the next six weeks,” Dürbeck says. “Shipments are continuing as usual and there has been no hinder due to any restricted regulations. Containers are also available again, and we haven’t experiences issues with that,” he adds.
While from Europe and North America the demand is steady, the Latin American market is experiencing some difficulties. The lack of water in many regions and extremely high temperatures during the summer contributed to a lot of small sized fruits, increasing the price pressure on Latin American receivers. The currencies in Latin America have been up and down in the past few weeks and this, combined with a decrease in petrol, has lowered the purchasing power of many countries. “The deviation of the currency is making it more expensive than usual to import products, so there are many buyers who are postponing their purchases,” Dürbeck shares.
Worries about upcoming autumn
While most European, Asian, and North American countries are going to be entering spring soon, Chile is fast approaching autumn. This is something that worries Dürbeck because the autumn and winter months are usually the months during which people are more susceptible to illness.
He says: “The government here in Chile has already taken many precautions, such as the closing of schools, the cancellation of sporting events, imposing quarantines and restricting travel. We as a company have also taken precautions such as increasing hygiene in crucial points, banning visits to the packing sites and informative talks to all employees to remind them to wash their hands and keep their distance from others. We work hard to prioritize the health of our workers.”
Frutasol’s packing house employs over 200 people, which means that these precautions are very important to ensure the safety of the workers. “If we should have losses in our manpower, then we would have difficulty supplying the markets. So far, everything has been running smoothly, but it could easily change. Fortunately, we do have plenty of cold storage giving us the advantage to store the apples until September, if that becomes necessary,” Dürbeck concludes.