( File photo )

The Chilean grape harvest has begun in Copiapo, and first shipments to the U.S. should depart to the U.S. the first week of December.

The Association of Agricultural Producers and Exporters of the Copiapó Valley kicked off the 2018-19 table grape season with an inaugural ceremony on Nov. 27, according to a news release.

Regional authorities, the National Society of Agriculture, the Foundation for Fruit Development and the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile (ASOEX) joined the event to celebrate the first harvests of one of Chile’s most important fruits, according to the release.

“The markets have spoken, and we have listened. Our important export markets, like North America, are not interested in older varieties like flames and red globes,” Lina Arrieta, the president of Association of Agricultural Producers and Exporters of the Copiapó Valley, said in the release. “Our growers are working hard to meet the needs of our export markets, so you’ll see increasing volumes of new varieties.” 

North America is Chile’s biggest grape market, taking 45% (39 million boxes) of Chilean grape export volume during the 2017-18 season.

Copiapo outlook

According to the release, grape volume from the Copiapó region is projected to exceed 10 million boxes this season. Harvest started Nov. 20, with first shipments leaving for the U.S. between Dec. 5 and Dec. 7, according to the release.

The biggest volumes from this region will be harvested from December through mid-January, with late varieties finishing by the first week in March.

The Chilean Fresh Fruit Association is positioned to drive sales of Chilean grapes and other fruit, Karen Brux, managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, said in the release. “With two merchandisers in the U.S. and one in Canada, we are able to support the trade with the marketing they need to sell more Chilean fruit,” Brux said in the release, noting options for digital coupons, produce manager sales contests, social media contests and more. “We develop the right mix to elevate Chilean fruit sales.”