One emerging trend for Chilean exporters is a growing interest among retailer buyers in setting up fixed-price programs. The programs help reduce uncertainty that can result from supply fluctuations, Gardner said.
“We are creating effective programs by aligning customers with growers who can meet their specifications on quality and product mix, though the majority of our customers are still buying Chilean fruit on the spot market,” she said.
Grower-shipper Exportadora Verfrut SA, Las Cabras, Chile, expects to ship more than 2.6 million boxes of fresh produce, including grapes, stone fruit and apples, to the U.S. and Canada, said Piero Vercellino, commercial executive in charge of the U.S. and Canadian markets. He said Verfrut expects to sell more than 1 million boxes through fixed-price programs this season.
Programs assure growers that their fruit will be sold, but when prices are fixed in U.S. dollars and the dollar’s value continues to weaken, growers still suffer from lower returns. The continued weakening of the dollar presents a difficult problem for Chilean growers. U.S. buyers could see prices rise, and Kieva said the spot market is predicted to be more volatile this season.