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Chilean freeze makes for tight kiwi market

A freeze in Chile during the budding time this season, caused damage to this year's kiwi crop. The drop in production is likely to result in higher prices in the United States, as American importers have to deal with fewer shipments coming from abroad.

“Kiwi is extremely short right now, and prices for kiwis are as high as we've seen in 20 years,” said Brian Lapin of Stellar Distributing in California. Stellar sells imported and locally-grown persimmons, figs and a range of other fresh produce products, though their mainstay commodity has always been the kiwi. But a shortage of fruit this year has them scrambling to find enough kiwis to supply their North American customers.

“We're up against other markets to see where Chilean growers will send their fruit,” said Lapin. “So we'll have to scratch and claw as much as we can to get what we need until California kiwis show up in September.” Part of the problem stems from adverse weather that hit kiwi-growing regions in Chile when trees were budding. That's led to what Lapin estimates could be a drop in production from last year to at least half. While he noted that Chile shipped about 20 million boxes of kiwis last year, the damage from this season's freeze could reduce shipments for the season to as little as 10 million boxes. With prices already high for the season, importers will have to offer strong prices when Chilean fruit starts arriving in about a month.

“It's important to sway Chilean shippers to send their fruit this way,” said Lapin, “and the only way we can do that is with the high prices they're asking for.” Robust prices will go a long way to convincing Chile's producers to send their fruit to the United States, but Lapin suggested their knowledge of the market will also help them secure the fruit they need.

“We understand what the production is going to be like in Chile, we know what's coming out of Italy and we know how much Californian fruit is left,” he explained. “So our advantage is that we know what price we need to offer if we want to get Chilean fruit this season.”

For more information:
Brian Lapin
Stellar Distributing

Email: [email protected]


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