Ignacio Caballero Torretti (left), marketing manger for the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association, and Ronald Bown, president of the association, attend a reception Feb. 7 sponsored by the Produce Marketing Association at Fruit Logistica. ( Tom Karst )

BERLIN — With the export season in peak volume, the 2019 Fruit Logistica comes at a busy time for the Chilean fruit industry.

Even so, Chile was well represented at the big trade show Feb. 6-8.

Numerous Chilean fruit industry and political leaders attended the official opening of the Chile pavilion Feb. 6.

Europe is second in terms of importance for Chilean produce exports, trailing North America, according to a news release.

“Despite the fact that Europe is a mature market, there are still opportunities for our fruit exports to continue growing, and last season we sent more than 658,000 tons of fruit, which showed an increase of 10% compared to the previous period,” Ronald Bown, president of fruit exporter association ASOEX, said in the release.

In the 2017-18 season, German imports of Chilean fruit grew by 38.7%, Bown said in the release, and Poland and Finland also saw increases in shipments above 30% compared with the previous year.


Grapes, blueberries, apples

Speaking on the show floor Feb. 7, Bown said Chilean grapes experienced a challenging start to the season in North America because of ample storage supplies in California in December and early January. Through early February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported season-to-date grape imports from Chile were running about 40% behind a year ago.

However, with California inventories now done, the Chilean grape market was recovering in early February Bown said.

Chilean red seedless grapes were trading at $28 to $30 per carton at the port of entry in Los Angeles, according to the USDA, compared with $18 to $20 per carton the same time last year.

Despite the challenge of surging Peruvian blueberry exports, Chilean blueberries have seen great volume and quality this season in shipments to all export markets, said Ignacio Caballero Torretti, marketing manger for the exporters association. In early February, Chile accounted for about 75% of all imported blueberry volume in the U.S., according to the USDA.

Lower apple stocks in the U.S. may invite more Chilean apple shipments this spring, but variables such as variety-specific demand will play a role in those decisions, Torretti said.