The Chilean fruit export season is full swing, the majority of stone fruit has just finished exporting, with just a few weeks of the late plum sales to happen in May. Grapes are still arriving, and top fruit is progressing well.
“Covid 19 has increased demand for apples of all varieties so it is looking like UK/European stocks will be less now than had been expected and we have seen a quick reaction with many customers asking to ship more from Chile,” reported Jon Clark of the Chilean owned company FGA (A San Clemente & Gesex Partnership).
The early Chilean soft citrus goes to the US market, however there has been a growth in Chile of later season varieties like Tango & Nadorcott that have created an interest from a number of customers in the UK/Europe as the fruit hits a natural window of sale in September and October as customers look for a fresher product with a great taste.
Logistics from Chile are working, at one point there were talks of port strikes which is quite common in Chile but they didn’t materialise and as in other parts of the world they have found ways to work through the lock down and everything is moving.
“Logistics are a bit more expensive because we have all had to change the ways things are being done. Things have slowed down in the way fruit is harvested/processed and haulage companies have to operate differently, but product is still getting picked and packed and thankfully in the last twenty years we have seen a big move to mechanisation in agriculture. In an orchard you can space people out fairly easily and in a pack house for the hard fruits there are not that many people required so it has not caused any major problems. Its business as normal as possible in an abnormal world.”
FGA Farming purchased the two leading cherry orchards in the UK and are looking forward to the first main harvest carrying on the years of outstanding work that made these award winning orchards. The volume expected is almost 3 times larger than the next biggest grower, with around 25% of the entire UK retail cherry crop being produced at these farms.
“The trees are looking outstanding; the weather has been perfect for bloom and we already have the fruit set and it all looks to be on schedule for a normal crop. We should start picking at the end of June with sales right through August, possibly into early September. The industry expects some challenges around picking fruit, although we all hope we are living a different world in July when we harvest.