Kiwi imports from Chile have dropped.
“The amount of kiwi shipped through week 14 from Chile to North America is currently down 100,000 boxes compared to shipments during the same shipping weeks as last year,” says Chris Kragie of Madera, Ca.-based Western Fresh Marketing. There are a few reasons why shipments are down. Chile has not only implemented its own physical distancing regulations which have slowed down production, but it’s also forecast an overall small decrease in production.
That said, Kragie notes that this could change soon. “I’m anticipating increased kiwi shipments over the next few weeks to North America from Chile and I would guess in three to four weeks, the shortage of product shipped currently could be made up,” adds Kragie.
Of course, demand has changed on many produce items including kiwi with the prevalence of COVID-19 throughout North America. “I’m anticipating consumption to be down for the next two to three weeks. But as the markets, restaurants and the country open up, we could get back to some normalcy,” says Kragie.
How consumers shop
No doubt, shopping habits on kiwi and other produce items have changed on the part of consumers and multiple factors are working their way into those habits. “With the quarantine, family units are spending more on staple items to feed a hungry confined crew. The reduced incomes also reduce purchasing impulse items,” says Kragie.
He also adds that many retailers are also dropping SKUs if products aren’t big sellers and in turn, those shifting food dollars are spent on frozen or prepared meals for convenience and comfort. “We hope the buying patterns are temporary as we come out of the quarantine and the consumer has more spendable income. It will be interesting to see what the consumer learns or forgets. As an industry we should be educating the consumer the benefits of fresh and healthy foods,” he says.
Because of COVIID-19, kiwi prices have been down compared to previous years. “But with these lower than normal prices we have seen kiwi needs on the retail side increase,” adds Kragie, who also notes that with the decreased amount of fruit from Chile over the next few weeks, the remaining domestic kiwi fruit clean up should happen in a semi-orderly manner and without pressure to drop prices to do so.