Report Highlights:

The industry forecasts that this year’s production of table grapes, apples and pears will be smaller than last year’s output as a result of abnormal weather during the last month of September.
Executive Summary:

Heavy frost last September will affect total output of apples, table grapes and pears for the coming 2014 production season. Additionally a drought for the second year in the Atacama (Copiapo), Coquimbo and Valparaiso Region, an area that represents an estimated 52 percent of the total planted area in the country continues to adversely affect this area of table grape production.

Apples, Fresh

Production:

Total output for the coming 2014 production season, although it is still early for a good prediction on production volume, is forecasted to be smaller than this year’s harvest, as most production areas were affected by heavy frost during last September.

For the coming years, as producers have been diversifying their orchards, by planting new and more productive varieties, i.e., Fuji, Gala, Jonathan, Braeburn, Pink Lady and Galaxies in replacement for the traditional varieties, such as Red Delicious and its variations (i.e., Richard Red, Starking, etc) and increasing orchard density, we could expect that output keeps expanding under normal weather conditions. Red apple varieties constitute over 75 percent of total planting and output. The main green variety is Granny Smith, which is used both for fresh export (mainly to Europe and the United States) as well as for concentrated apple juice production.

Crop Area

Although some growers, mainly in Regions VII (Curico-Talca) and VIII (Chillan), continue to replace and increase their planting densities, farmers have been uprooting old orchards. However, in general, the total planted area is on hold due to a significant fall in economic returns on apples during the last few years. A strong peso together with increased labor costs has also been a factor by reducing competitiveness of the labor-intensive fruit industry in Chile. All this has brought the planted area into a hold after a continuous growth in the past. The exchange rate for the peso fell again during the last 12 months. Other factors, like increasing energy costs and labor shortage which increases labor cost, are also affecting the industry. Consequently, industry sources have indicated that increases of new plantings and significant production increases in the coming years are not expected.

Consumption:

There are no official statistics on domestic fresh apple consumption.

Trade:

A strong demand for apples resulted in an increase of the value of exports in MY2013. Economic returns increased also during 2013 as prices obtained for the exported apples increased slightly again. The US continues to be Chile’s largest export market for apples.

Grapes, Table, Fresh

Production:

A significant fall in production of table grapes is expected as a result of adverse weather conditions in most growing areas during the week of September 16, 2013 when several days of heavy frosts were recorded in north and central fruit producing areas, specifically from the 3rd to the 7th region, with the most severe frost on September 17, when thermometers reached between - 4 to - 5° C for 5 hours in the Metropolitan Region (RM) and region VI. This has been the worst frost recorded since 1929. The industry predicts a 10 to 20 percent fall in volume when compared to last year’s harvest. Additionally the Atacama (Copiapo), Coquimbo and Valparaiso Region is being affected by a drought for the second year. This area represents an estimated 52 percent of the total planted area in the country.

Chile produces over 36 varieties of table grapes for export. Thompson Seedless and Flame Seedless account for the bulk of production. Varieties like Red Globe, Superior Seedless, Crimson and Autumn Royal continued to increase in the last few years, as most of the replanting has been with these varieties. Table Grapes are planted from Atacama Region (Copiapo) to Maule Region (Curico-Talca).

Crop Area

Industry sources agree that new plantings are not likely for the next few years as economic returns have been affected by increasing costs and in general falling prices for table grapes. Additionally, a revaluation of the Chilean peso against the dollar has not being helping the fresh fruit export industry in general, as their cost are in pesos and the income is in dollars.

Consumption:

As with other Chilean fresh fruits, domestically consumed table grapes are mainly export rejects. There are no official statistics on domestic consumption. Domestic fresh consumption is derived from the only known figure, which is exports, and estimated production data. Domestic consumption generally accounts for about 10 percent of total output, while processing, mainly into raisins, accounts for another 30 percent.

Trade:

Table grape export volumes are expected to fall in 2014 when compared with the previous year, as a result of a smaller production. Over 40 percent of total exports go to the US. The EU is Chile’s second most important table grape export market. As in the past, table grapes are being imported during the off-season.

Pears, Fresh

Production:

Although it is still early for a good prediction on pear production volumes, the severe frost during the month of September when thermometers reached between - 4 to - 5° C for 5 hours on September 17, allows us to predict a significant fall in production as a large number of orchards in most production areas (mainly Metropolitan and Rancagua Region) were significantly affected. Industry sources expect a 10 percent fall in production when compared to the previous year.

There are over 36 pear varieties grown in Chile. Packam's Triumph and Beurre Bosc make up over 60 percent of Chile's exports. Other important varieties in Chile are Abate Fetel, Coscia, Summer Bartlets and D’Anjou.

Consumption:

Most pears are consumed fresh because only a few existing varieties in Chile can be processed for canned pears or juice concentrates. Domestically consumed pears are mainly export rejects.

Trade:

Exports are expected to be smaller than last year in line with the fall in production. The European Union is Chile’s main export market. Close to 50 percent of pear exports are destined for the EU