Agronometrics in Charts: Varietal Replacement Continues to Influence Chilean Grape Exports

By Agronometrics | 10 November 2023

In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the state of the Chilean grape season. Each week the series looks at a different horticultural commodity, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.

The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service recently released the Chile: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual report which indicates a projected 15% increase in Chilean table grape production for the 2023-24 marketing year. Abundant rainfall and favorable yields are expected to drive a 13.6% surge, reaching 740,000 metric tons. Concurrently, Chilean grape exports are projected to increase by 13.5% to 564,000 metric tons. This positive outlook is attributed to favorable climatic conditions and ample winter rainfall.

“This projected growth is due primarily to an increase in the production of new varieties, which will represent 63% of Chile’s total fresh grape exports this season, close to 40 million boxes,” ASOEX President Iván Marambio said in a news release.

“We expect an increase of 16% in green grape volume over the previous season, with impressive increases in Sweet Globe, Autumn Crisp and Arra 15 varieties,” he said.

Exports of green grape varieties are projected to reach 22.9 million boxes, of which 74.4% will be new varieties, the release said.Shipments of red varieties are expected to exceed 24.9 million boxes, of which 74.1% will correspond to new varieties, according to the release. Timco, Allison and Sweet Celebration are some of the main standouts among the red varieties, the release said. As for black grapes, exports will be around 6 million boxes, with 76.5% new varieties, including Sable Seedless, Sweet Favors and Sweet Sapphire, the committee said in the release.

grape volumes by variety11

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.

(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

The USDA report notes a declining trend in the table grape planting area due to long-term economic challenges, including increased international competition and low prices for traditional grape varieties.

“Area planted decreased from 133,068 acres in marketing year 2011-12 to 106,317 acres in marketing year 2022-23,” the report said. “Increasing international competition and low prices for traditional varieties such as crimson, flame, and red globe has put pressure on smaller table grape exporters, many of which eventually exited the market,” the report said.

grape volumes by history 25

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.

(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

According to the USDA, the area under cultivation for table grapes within the Metropolitana region has witnessed a reduction of 14.1% over the course of the last three marketing years. This decline is primarily attributed to a shift towards cultivating more economically viable crops such as walnuts, cherries, and citrus.

The report also underscores that the Atacama and Coquimbo regions continue to face substantial challenges and are facing diminishing acreage. These contractions are chiefly driven by elevated production costs and the persistently low global grape prices, posing a significant threat to the sustainability of grape cultivation in these regions. “In recent years, the costs of labor, transportation, and agrochemicals have increased dramatically, while producers struggle to compete with the prices offered by Peruvian and other regional suppliers,” the report said.

grape prices by variety 6

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.

(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

On the trade front, the report highlighted that Chile is actively pursuing a systems approach to enhance market access to the United States for three key Chilean growing regions: Atacama, Coquimbo, and Valparaiso. This strategic initiative aims to eliminate the necessity of methyl bromide fumigation in mitigating against the European grapevine moth, which, as stated in the report, significantly compromises the quality and shelf life of the fruit, leading to reduced prices in the retail market. Moreover, fumigated products are rendered ineligible for USDA organic certification.

The report highlights the substantial benefits of the systems approach, particularly for Atacama and Coquimbo—which have limited alternatives for table grape production. USDA published a proposed rule to allow the grape systems approach on Oct. 17, 2022. The comment period ended on Jan. 17, 2023, and publication of the final rule is currently pending.
“The Systems Approach replaces the current fumigation requirement with the inspection of table grapes, since it involves compliance with a set of measures to avoid the risks of quarantine pests, both at the orchards and fruit plants. Eliminating this fumigation requirement will substantially improve the quality and condition of the fruit, which would allow us to deliver a better product to consumers,” says Miguel Canala-Echeverria, general manager of ASOEX.

The U.S. is the main market for Chilean table grape exports, accounting for about 50% of Chile’s grape exports in 2022-23. However, according to the report, Chilean table grape exporters are facing challenges in the U.S. market due to the demand for new table grape varieties and increasing competition with Peruvian table grape exports. China is the second biggest export market, taking about 12% of Chile’s grape exports in 2022-23. “The shipping distance from Chile to China remains the biggest challenge for Chilean table grape exports to that market,” the report said, noting transit times of three to four weeks.​​​​​​​

During the ‘1st Table Grape Congress’ that convened in Ica, Peru, Ignacio Caballero, the Marketing Director and Coordinator of ASOEX’s Table Grape Committee, asserted that the 2022-23 season represented a significant achievement for the industry. Notably, 55% of the exported volume in the marketing year comprised new grape varieties. “The committee projects that within the next two years, 70% of grape shipments will consist of new varieties, a big increase from 55% during the 2022-23 season,” says Iván Marambio.

In our ‘In Charts’ series, we work to tell some of the stories that are moving the industry. Feel free to take a look at the other articles by clicking here.

All pricing for domestic US produce represents the spot market at Shipping Point (i.e. packing house/climate controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the pricing data represents the spot market at Port of Entry.

You can keep track of the markets daily through Agronometrics, a data visualization tool built to help the industry make sense of the huge amounts of data that professionals need to access to make informed decisions. If you found the information and the charts from this article useful, feel free to visit us at where you can easily access these same graphs, or explore the other 21 commodities we currently track.

Witten by Sarah Ilyas

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