“More than 100 countries receive fruit from Chile,” Tjerandsen said. “A finite volume of fruit is grown in Chile, although substantial resources are being expended to increase the total.”
In 2011-12, due to increased demand from other markets, Chilean grape shipments fell by 8%, Schiro said. And last year was no means an anomaly.
“It’s been a trend for the last five years,” he said. “It’s becoming a more global market.”
On the one hand, that sometimes means North American importers have to work harder to find adequate supplies. On the other hand, Schiro said, increased demand from Asia and other rival markets can strengthen markets here, particularly now that U.S. retailers understand the ramifications of that new, global market.
“The last two seasons we’ve seen a very strong market,” he said. “Retailers realize they need to pay competitive prices. They’ve heard multiple times from us that other markets are paying strong prices for excellent fruit.”
Higher prices can be a tough sell with some retailers, but in the end everyone benefits when Chilean growers do well and subsequently invest more in their businesses, Schiro said.