During North America’s winter months, Chile enjoys their summer season and supplies the US market with stone fruits. The stone fruit exports from Chile start in November, with peach shipments beginning in week 45, nectarines in week 46, and plums in week 48. The peach season is the first to start, and the first to draw to a close.
“The peach season is coming to a close now, but nectarines and plums are still available in promotable volumes. Nectarine promotions will end in March and plum promotions will continue into April,” says Karen Brux of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association.
Lower volumes but higher quality this season
Chile is the only stone fruit supplier during the winter months. Brux shares: “We certainly have competition from other fruits in the produce department, but not from other stone fruit suppliers. Having worked with the Chilean fresh fruit industry for 8 years, I’ve definitely seen huge improvements in the eating quality of our stone fruit, and I think it’s great that we can enjoy high quality peaches, plums and nectarines in the U.S. during the heart of our winter!”
This season, the peach volumes are roughly the same as last season, but the volumes of nectarines and plums have slightly declined. For the peaches and the nectarines, the peak of the season was in January, in weeks 5 and 4, respectively. For plums, the peak of the season is coming up: “The largest volumes of plums are expected to ship between weeks 11 and 13, and will then start winding down until shipments end around week 21 or 22,” Brux shares.
While Chile hasn’t shipped large volumes of organic produce to the US this year, Brux does remark that there is a good market for it. “Chile shipped 3,300 boxes of organic nectarines and 1,872 boxes of organic plums to the US. In the US in general there is a strong demand among retailers and consumers for organic produce, so there’s definitely a market for it,” she says.
The Chilean stone fruit season has been very popular with retailers in the US, though there is room for improvement, Brux says. “The retailers who promote the Chilean stone fruit have been very happy with how it contributes to the bottom line of the produce department. Unfortunately, there are still some retail chains who are missing out by either displaying tiny volumes and not promoting or just not selling stone fruit during the domestic season.”
The main focus of the promotion program for Chilean stone fruit has been in-store demos, but due to the issues and precautions taken surrounding the coronavirus, these haven’t been very prominent this season. Brux explains: “In light of the coronavirus, all of these programs have been cancelled. We’re continuing with digital coupons and other online retail programs, and we’re also engaging in more online consumer outreach. We’re using Facebook, Instagram and our consumer newsletter to offer healthy eating tips and easy recipes that parents can make with kids while they’re home from school. We also have some short videos introducing the different varieties of stone fruit available in the U.S.”
She continues: “We will continue to expand on the in-store demo program next year. Our demos always result in double or even triple digit sales increases. They are so effective in showcasing the great flavor and juiciness of our fruit. People try it, love it, buy it and come back for more!”
With the worries surrounding the pandemic, consumer habits have been different than usual in the past week. “There certainly seems to be a strong demand for frozen and canned fruit and veggies. Fresh produce sales are strong, but there are definitely some people who are concerned about buying bulk produce. We’ve looked to organizations like the PMA, PBH, United Fresh, etc. for messages that we can share on social media to reassure people that fresh produce is going to support one's overall health and immune system during these challenging times. We’re reminding consumers of the steps they should follow to ensure their produce is clean and safe,” Brux concludes.
For more information:
Chilean Fresh Fruit Association
Tel: +1 (650) 654-0777