The USDA projects decline in Chilean fruit exports for 2019-20. ( File photo )

Chile 2019-20 deciduous fruit exports will dip modestly because of a drought and a decline in planted area, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The annual fruit report, released in November, predicts that total Chilean table grape exports in 2019-20 will fall 3%, with apple exports down 7% and pear exports off 10%.

Grape changes

Chile’s table grape planted area in marketing 2019-20 is projected unchanged at about 118,000 acres, according to the report. The USDA said table grape production will drop due to droughts throughout the country and will have a pronounced effect in the central Chile regions of Valparaiso, Metropolitana, and O’Higgins. On the other hand, the report said the northern regions of Atacama and Coquimbo have enough water reserves.

The USDA said traditional table grape varieties, including crimson seedless and thompson seedless, are declining in volume. Newer varieties, such as arra-15, timco, and sweet celebration continue to increase in production, the report said. Chile’s 2019-20 grape output is estimated at 805,000 metric tons, down 3% from last season. 

Exports of table grapes will fall again in 2019-20 after an off year in 2018-19. Last season, the report said Chile’s table grape exports decreased by 10.5% in volume and 12% in value compared with 2017-18, totaling 654,479 metric tons and $953 million. Table grape exports to the U.S. and China fell by 10% while exports to South Korea grew by 27.7% last season. Even with the decline last year, the U.S. took 45% of Chile’s total exports in 201-8-19, with 295,149 metric tons shipped to the U.S.

Competition from Peru early in the season has pulled Chilean grape prices down and created a greater emphasis for late-season exports, according to the report.

The USDA projects Chilean grape exports to China will grow as exporters focus their promotion funds and marketing efforts in reaching that market.  Chile’s total grape exports for 2019-20 are projected at 640,000 metric tons, down from 660,000 metric tons in 2018-19.

Apples now and then

Chile’s apple acreage in the upcoming season is projected at near 80,000 acres, 6% lower than 2018-19. Increased competition from Peru and low prices for traditional varieties contributed to the acreage decline, according to the USDA.

Last season, Chile’s total fresh apple exports decreased by 10% in volume and 8.4% in value compared with the 2017-18 season, with totals of 618,324 metric tons in volume and $557 million in value.

2018-19 exports of Chilean apples were diversified to customers in North America, Latin America, Europe and the Far East, but the U.S. was rated as the top buyer of Chilean apples.

For the upcoming season, the USDA estimates that apple exports to China, Taiwan, India, and Vietnam are expected to increase. Total Chilean apple exports for 2019-20 are projected at 656,500 metric tons, off 7% from 705,000 metric tons last season.

Pears sliced

Chilean pear acreage now is estimated at nearly 18,000 acres, about 11.5% lower compared with 2018-19. Last season, the USDA said Chile’s pear exports increased by 1.4% in volume and 0.3% in value over 2017-18, reaching 123,914 metric tons and $117.2 million.

Top Chilean export markets for pears include Russia, Colombia, the Netherlands and Italy, according to the report.

Chilean pears also were exported to China starting in April with the opening of that market. For 2019-20, the USDA projects total Chilean pear exports at 117,000 metric tons, 10% lower compared with 130,000 metric tons in 2018-19.


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