Growing demand for Chilean stone fruit

According to US and Canadian importers, the competition for Chilean fruit is on the rise. An example of this is that during the 2011-2012 campaign, Chile produced 15 million boxes of cherries and only 3 million arrived in North America, while the previous season's shipments reached 4 million boxes.

What this means, according to the importers, is that despite the larger Chilean cherry production this year, US import volumes are actually lower than before.

The situation, according to the importers, is the same with nectarines and plums, as in 2011-2012, with similar production volumes, the amount of nectarines arriving in North America fell from 3.4 million to 2.8 million boxes.

Regarding plums, also with similar production volumes, shipments fell from around 4 million to 3 million boxes.

Chilean cherries, according to retailers, are North America's favourite fruit, stated Craig Padover, Stone Fruits Manager at Jac Vandenberg Inc., of Yonkers, New York.

Many firms like Vandenberg are struggling to get enough Chilean produce to meet demand.

"The new production is mainly going to Asia," said Padover. "This market is always competing for cherries. It is a market with a great and growing demand for this fruit in recent years."

The growing interest in Chilean fruit worldwide is also having an impact on stone fruit production in the country, said Padover.

"Producers are making decisions based on global demand, and there are other options for nectarines and plums," stated Vandenberg's manager, adding that "while North America is still a greatly important market for Chilean producers, now they have more options." And often, added Padover, those options are more profitable.

"If a producer is offered a price in the Far East and a lower one in North America, where will they ship that product?"

Meanwhile, Brian Bocock, product managing vice-president of Naturipe Farm LLC, Michigan, pointed out that the Asian demand for Chilean blueberries will help stabilise prices in the US.

Source: SimFRUIT

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