Climate hits cranberry shipments and frustrates projection of reaching the 100 thousand tons

A hot summer and intermittent rains complicated the last part of the productive period. In frozen, a decrease of US $ 6,5 million in returns is expected.

Earlier this year, in the fruit sector projected that one of the export species most benefited from the rise of the dollar would be blueberries. However, they conditioned this success to a climate that was an ally rather than an enemy in the productive period. However, finally a rainy spring and a hot summer caused strong impacts in this sector. At the beginning of the season, the Committee of Cranberries of Chile had projected shipments on the 100 thousand tons, a figure that had to be adjusted over the span of 2015-2016.

Finally, the season ended without reaching the estimated volumes, reaching a little more than 91 thousand tons, according to the report of this Committee. This figure was very similar to that of the 2014-2015 season, which stagnated the growth that exports of this fruit had had.

The entity explained that this lower volume was due to lower temperatures that delayed harvests and affected production; and also to the effect it has on the US market - which represents close to the 70% of shipments of Chilean blueberries - fumigation by lobesia botrana (moth of the vine cluster). This meant that shipments of organic blueberries to that market increased at the expense of conventional ones.

Juan Carlos Domínguez, corporate commercial manager of exporter SBGroup, said the season had three stages. The first was very good because of high prices, because it was late and there was less supply, he explained. In addition, he stressed that in the first phase there was low production in Argentina, which allowed Chile to reach practically only the markets. The second stage -between the middle of November and December- was with high volumes and competitive prices. However, the problems appeared in the third part of the season, when they exhibited low prices, slow demand and high concentration of harvest, he said. He added that these factors affected the values ​​and the rotation of the products in the markets.

The president of Fedefruta, Ramón Achurra, pointed out that between December and January this fruit had good performances, but that it was hit with the rains, affecting this to the commercial part.

Frozen fruit

In the case of frozen blueberries, prices were better, but volumes were also affected. Juan Miguel Ovalle, general manager of Frutícola Olmué, said that according to the figures for the first quarter of 2016 of frozen products available, there are drops of 6% in value and 15% in volume compared to the same period last year. "This implies a better average price due to less supply," he commented.

However, the higher value paid and the rise in the dollar can not compensate for the decrease in volume. Ovalle explained that this year at industry level will be exported US $ 6,5 million less of frozen blueberries and a decrease of 4.250 tons in volume, according to the estimates they handle.

Growth of berries
In the previous season, blueberry exports grew 22%, while this year they stagnated.

Source: El Mercurio

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