(May 9, PACKER WEB EXCLUSIVE) A volcano eruption in southern Chile should not affect the country’s fruit and vegetable crops, importers, exporters and officials said.

For several days in the first week of May, a volcano near the provincial capital of Chaiten erupted, forcing the evacuation of the city.

Berries are grown further south than most high-volume Chilean fruits and vegetables. But Chaiten is still hundreds of miles south of the southernmost berry regions, said Victor Moller, president of Santiago, Chile-based Hortifrut SA and a partner in Naturipe Farms LLC, Naples, Fla.

In addition, winds blew ash from the volcano east, not north, Moller said.

Moller said the volcano would have no effect on Hortifrut berries.

As of May 7, Dave Bowe, president of Dave's Specialty Imports Inc., Miami, hadn’t heard of any threats to berries.

“I met with a grower from Chile on Monday (May 5) and he didn’t say a word about it,” Bowe said.

No other fruit and vegetable crops should be affected, said Ronald Bown, president of the Chilean Exporters Association, Santiago, and Guillermo Reveco, general manager of Chiquita Chile, Santiago.