Before 2009, non-U.S. 1 Chilean grapes had been allowed in through April 20.
“Changing the marketing order to April 10 has really put pressure on Chilean exporters,” Lewis said. “If it had stayed at April 20, I think most Chileans would have been able to meet the date and been satisfied.”
The priority, he said, is to get all green grapes shipped by the target date. The second priority is crimsons, though it’s impossible to get all of them shipped by April 10.
“Last year almost two million (boxes of) grapes arrived after the order,” Lewis said. “Like many government programs, the unintended consequence is usually disappointing. In this case, the government wanted Chilean fruit out of the way before Coachella fruit harvested. What they got was just the opposite.”
Two million was a record number, and Lewis said 2011 should be no different, particularly since Easter, which falls on April 24, is late this year.
“That (the late Easter) will create even more interest to ship beyond the marketing order,” he said.