The grape season in the valley of Copiapo, Chile, has just started, and the situation is marked by normality, despite the drought problems in the IV Region, where 10-12% of the country's grapes are produced, "CopiapĆ³ has had sufficient water supply to ensure a good production," affirms Juan Colombo, of Exportadora Subsole.

This entails that the production and quality problems that affected Chile last year as a result of frost will be overcome. Juan explains that "the fruit's supply will follow the usual patterns, with increasing volumes from week 49, and reaching its peak between weeks 9 and 14, when all central valleys are productive and Chile exports significant volumes to all markets."

According to Juan, the October to November market, which used to be marked by shortages, has transformed in recent times, since growers in the Northern Hemisphere have sought to extend their season, while in the South the campaign now arrives earlier. "This has resulted in increased competition and elimination of peaks, with prices that will continue to fall over coming years."

In terms of varieties, at this time of year Copiapo harvests the Flame and Prime, both seedless. Juan assures that, despite the greater dynamism of seedless varieties, "the Red Globe business is still very much alive, although it has become more sensitive in regard to prices."

Seedless grapes

One of the firm's clients is China, which receives 5-6% of the shipments. Juan states that "this market is not quite mature yet. The fruit currently enters the country through a wholesale market that serves as a central point of entry, so prices depend heavily on volume and do not reflect the market's potential."

The United States, for example, which is a much larger market with 40% of the imports, is not as sensitive to this aspect. Juan believes that "with a product like grapes, a change in the way the product enters the market would likely unleash China's immense potential."

Overall, Exportadora Subsole exports about 6 million boxes of grapes per season. "The company has continued to work this year on incorporating varieties, technical handling and refrigeration facilities, etc., "which will allow us to maintain a strong presence in the market. We have a lot of work to do, but also the ability to handle it," concludes Juan Colombo.

Juan Colombo
Exportadora Subsole S.A.
Luis Pasteur 5661, Vitacura
Tel. (56) (2) 940 6400(2) 940 6400
Fax (56) (2) 242 1220
Santiago, Chile
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