The Chilean stone fruit season is off to a good start, though the US West Coast has seen some delays so far. Cristian Ramila of Bengard Marketing shares: “The growing conditions in Chile were very good this season, with good chill hours and excellent weather throughout the spring and summer. We are currently importing peaches, plums and nectarines as our main stone fruits.”
Rich Lady Peaches.
Congestion on the West Coast
While Chile has produced an on-start time to the season and good volumes, there have been delays on the West Coast of the US in getting the season off the ground. Ramila says: “Usually, we start unloading for the season in December but there has been a lot of congestion on the pier that has been making it tough to get the fruit unloaded. The fruit should have started arriving the first week after Christmas, but we didn’t get it until the first week of January. This has created a bit of a hunger on the market because the availability has been very unstable so far this season.”
This congestion has been an issue since November, Ramila says. “There are too many vessels coming in from China, carrying a wide variety of products. This is what has been causing the congestion, and it has been complicated to ensure stable and accurate availability on our fruit, the situation is totally out of our control,” he explains.
Fortunately, now that the first bulk vessel has arrived, this problem seems to be resolving. “We just received our first bulk vessel a couple of days ago, and there aren’t any issues with the bulk availability – the issues are only affecting container vessels. Bulk vessels have their own terminal, which makes it all easier. So, from now on we should be receiving a bulk vessel once a week the rest of the season and be able to have consistent supplies and weekly availability of fresh product,” Ramila explains.
Solid pricing and good volumes
Despite these challenges, the pricing on the market has remained stable. Ramila says: “The prices right now are really good and stable, but we will likely see the prices adjust by the first week of February. The price adjustment happens every year, though it usually happens a little earlier in the season. Because the volumes this year are similar to what they have been in previous years, I expect the prices to be normal: nothing very high or very low, but a happy medium.”
Out of the many different varieties of the plums, peaches and nectarines, a few stand out as being extra popular. “For the peaches, the Rich Lady variety is very popular, which is available right now. Then, in a couple of weeks we will see the Lemon Plum come onto the market, which is a green-yellow plum variety that is always very demanded. For nectarines, new varieties have been planted recently, mostly with higher sugar content, but in general all nectarine varieties perform well,” Ramila concludes.