“They know that they need to commit some volume. They cannot just arrive with everything open and see what happens.”
Alcaino also said more export companies are forming relationships with big retailers such as Costco and Wal-Mart that set program prices for the whole season.
“Most growers want the highest pricing and communications is not at its best,” Abu-Ghazaleh said. “What we’ve done is we have a complete staff of agronomists on the ground to tell us the black and white of how things are.”
Suppliers predict a decrease in grape volumes and lower copper prices will mean more stability in the Chilean labor market.
“The labor situation is calm,” Echeverria said. “Principally, for the placement of workers.”
Alcaino said labor in Chile is not as available as it used to be, with a greater migration to population centers, but there is “absolutely no signal” of a fear of shortage as a result of this year’s decreased crop.
Leichter said labor is a continuing issue in Chile, and with a liberal president for the past five years, workers felt more empowered to strike with the ear of a sympathetic government.
As The Packer went to press, center-right candidate Sebastián Piñera was the favorite to win the Jan. 17 runoff election, having garnered 44% of the vote in the first round against center-left candidate Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle.
Alcaino said he thought the presidential election was “not really a factor” given the close proximity of candidate positions and strong recent history of agribusiness.
“They are not going to be much difference,” Echeverria said of the change of administration. “With one or the other, the country is going to continue on a similar rhythm…. in practically 20 years, we have not had big differences or changes (in the agriculture sector).”