Overcoming Chilean produce obstacles

From The Packer | 2 January 2023

Overview of fruits from Chile in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on December 30, 2022. 

Chilean produce has become a key resource to keep fruit on U.S. retail shelves year-round. Challenges with shipping, plus labor — sound familiar? — have put a dent in export volumes of fresh fruit, but key players are collaborating to resolve the issue, like improving quality and efficiencies, diversifying destination markets, opening ports to cargo ships and prioritizing food supplies at those ports. And then there’s the Blueberry Express: a special charter service for the entire blueberry industry, to run early December through the 2022-23 season, with less than two weeks of transit time to the U.S. market.


Chilean apple and pear exports were estimated to drop, by 5.2% for apples and 11.5% for pears, partly due to shipping costs and logistics. But Chile commands big market share advantages in 2022 for U.S. imports of apples at 52%. Chile accounts for 18% of U.S. import pear value in 2022.


In marketing year 2021-22, Chile produced 57% more avocados than the previous season due to good climatic conditions, according to the USDA. Most, or 89%, of Chile’s avocados are the hass variety. Demand for avocados is strong from both domestic and export markets, pushing prices up the last two years.

avocado volumes by histo 1

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)


The main market for Chilean fresh blueberries is the U.S., with more than 53% of the shipments last season. And the U.S. continues to be Chile’s main market for fresh organic blueberries, with 75% of all organic blueberries shipped to the U.S. This October to February season should feature a different variety mix and lower volume of fresh exports. The 2022-23 season of fresh blueberry exports to the U.S. is expected to be 8% lower than last season. The Chilean Blueberry Committee said the focus was on quality over quantity, as logistics, transportation and labor issues improve.

blueberry volumes by his 2

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)


Rabobank analysts say 2022 U.S. cherry imports could reach the highest volume in more than a decade. A November report said U.S. fresh cherry imports rose 50% year-over-year through August, with Chilean imports through that date up 131% compared to same time last year. But all Southern Hemisphere growers face more competition, declining prices and narrowing margins due to higher production costs.

cherry volumes by histor 2

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)


The U.S. continues to be the largest market for Chilean citrus exports in the summertime through October. However, the 2022 Chilean citrus crop volume may fall 27% from 2021 because of a late-May frost in Chilean citrus growing regions.


Chile accounted for 41% of U.S. import grape value from September 2021 through August 2022, up from 39% for the same period in 2021 but nearly half of its 76% share in 2000, according to the USDA. “We formed the Chilean Table Grape Committee to generate a strategic plan to improve quality and strengthen our competitiveness in international markets,” said Ignacio Caballero, Asociación de Exportadores de Frutas de Chile marketing director. They are focusing on new varieties that can arrive at their destinations in better shape.

grape volumes by history 1

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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