Chile. Raisin Annual. Jul 2014 Aug. 19, 2014
Chile’s raisin production is forecast to decrease during the present Marketing Year due to fewer grapes available for drying purposes.
Raisin production in 2012/13 (Jan-Dec 2013) was less than FAS Chile had forecast. A smaller harvest of table grapes combined with a strong demand for fresh grapes reduced production of raisins. For 2013/2014 (Jan-Dec 2014) a further decrease in production is expected. A heavy frost in September 2013 decreased total output of table grapes. As a result, fewer grapes were available for raisin production. For 2014/2015 the industry expects an increase in total raisin output as grape production is expected to recuperate.
In Chile there are almost no grapes planted solely for raisin production. Raisins come mostly from discarded table grapes that do not make it for exports or domestic fresh consumption. Given that raisins are almost a by-product of table grape production, factors other than raisin yield drive producers’ choice of which varieties to plant and grow. Raisins are produced mainly from Thompson and Flame Seedless varieties. Recently, some table grape producers have been uprooting plantings of those varieties and replacing them with varieties which yield a greater overall return. These increasingly popular varieties include Autumn Royal, Black seedless, Crimson seedless, Superior, and Red Globe.
Sun drying is the most common drying method. Grapes are laid on plastic film in open fields, where they are sun-dried for 15 to 20 days. There also are many facilities that use drying tunnels. After the drying process is completed, the raisins are washed and any stems are removed, then they are sized and packed.
Additional increases in production of raisins in the coming year will depend on foreign demand, prices of raisins, and production of table grapes. FAS Chile is forecasting raisin production at approximately 65,500 metric tons. Raisin production is expected to level off because, as mentioned above, the table grape varieties that are most commonly used for raisin production are being replaced by more profitable varieties. Additionally, raisin producers compete with grape juice and wine producers and the availability of grapes for drying will depend on the demand of grapes needed by these producers. Over 95 percent of Chilean raisin production is destined for the export market.
Chile is the world’s sixth largest raisin producer and the fourth largest exporter. Additionally, it is the southern hemisphere’s largest raisin exporter. Is also the largest supplier of raisins to the United States. Normally, the main destination for Chilean table grapes product is the fresh fruit export market (60%), followed by raisin production (21%), grape juice (9%), and wine (9%). Chile’s raisin production capacity, i.e., the installed capacity to process table grapes into raisins, is estimated at 340,000 MT of table grapes, which, using a 4:1 drying factor would yield 85,000 MT of raisins. Presently approximately a little over 270,000 MT of table grapes are processed into raisins, which is 79 percent of total capacity. Table grapes are harvested from November through March, depending on the geographic area of production and variety of grapes harvested. Drying of grapes to raisins is done during the summer months, which in Chile is December through March, and processing is normally done from April through July. There are some processing plants that process throughout the entire year.
Chile's best quality raisins are exported. As with most of Chile’s fruit production, the domestic market normally receives raisins that were rejected by exporters. Since the domestic raisin consumption is small, it does not influence production or trade decisions. The main end-users of raisins are the baking, pastry, and ice cream industries. Raisins are primarily used in finished products such as cakes, cookies, and ice cream. Non-industrial usage and snack consumption are limited.
Over 95 percent of Chilean raisin production is exported. In recent years, the UK and Russia have been Chile’s major single-country export markets. Latin America, as a regional market, accounts for half of Chile's raisin exports, most of which are lower quality raisins. Although raisins are exported year round, over 80 percent of total exports occur during May through November.
Most raisin exporters have a policy of maintaining stock levels close to zero. Whenever possible, exporters prefer to sell or export all of their production. Variations in the ending stock level from one marketing year to the next, generally only means that raisins have not yet been shipped to their destination.
The government does not provide direct export subsidies or play any role in setting quality standards for this product.
Raisins are not a key consumer item in Chile. Consequently, neither the government nor the various exporter associations maintain retail or wholesale prices. Export prices for CY2013 averaged US$2,816/MT, up from CY2012 average price of US$2,399/MT