The winter fruit season has barely begun and public unrest and a strike at Chilean ports is not holding back fruit exports so far, Chilean fruit export sources report.
Demonstrations in Chile began in mid-October over an increase in metro transportation rates, and they’ve escalated into clashes with security forces that have resulted in at least 20 deaths through Oct. 31, media outlets reported.
On Oct. 25, the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile (ASOEX) issued a joint statement with other agriculture exporters that acknowledged the right of citizens to protest peacefully but “absolute rejection of the serious excesses that have occurred.”
The association reported that ports of Chile were at a standstill Oct. 29 and Oct. 30 because of a union strike, but gave no prediction when normal activity would resume.
With the Chilean citrus and kiwifruit seasons having ended by the end of October and the blueberry season just beginning, there has been little effect from the port disruption on Chilean fruit exports, Karen Brux, managing director for North America with the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, said in an e-mail.
Through Oct. 27, Chile has exported 1,160 metric tons of blueberries to all markets, or 49% more volume compared with the same time a year ago. Organic blueberries accounted for 57% of Chile’s blueberry export volume, Brux said.
North America takes about 70% of Chile’s blueberry exports, and the rest is bound for the Far East.
Tree fruit and grape exports from Chile will begin with volume in December.