In the first quarter of 2020, concentrated juice exports via the port of San Antonio increased by 80% over the same period of last year, totaling 14,320 tons (a volume that is equivalent to about 8,900 pallets). According to data released by the Patagonia North port terminal (TPPN), around 45% of these shipments correspond to apple concentrates and the remaining 55% to pear juices.
This significant jump in exports is due to the greater demand by North American importers for this type of product, a market that currently buys almost all (99%) of the exportable supply of the Rio Negro Valley and Neuquen.
To date, three ships loaded with concentrates from the region have departed from the port of San Antonio Este (SAE). The last ship, the Ice Grace, departed on April 29th with nearly 10,000 tons of apple and pear juices bound for the United States. Nearly 85% of the concentrated juices exported are shipped out via the SAE.
According to sources linked to the private sector, the region plans to industrialize around 250,000 tons of pears and apples this year, the majority of which will be used to produce concentrates. One of the problems faced by entrepreneurs in the current season is the increase in raw material prices (apple and pears for the industry), which, in some cases, tripled when compared to their value during the previous year.
The sector's annual exports –on average– amount to just over 60 million dollars and absorbs an average of 35% of the fruit that is not destined for the fresh market. In its best moments, such as in the mid-2010s, these exports amounted to more than 120 million dollars a year. However, exporters have been unable to maintain these sales levels because of the fruit sector's crisis.