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Chilean deal on track for excellent season

Andreas Economou, who knows a thing or two about the Chilean winter fruit deal because he has seen many of them, believes the 2017-18 season will be an excellent one — especially on the heels of the 2016-17 season

“Compared to last year, it should be an excellent crop with a very good market,” said the chief operating officer of Tastyfrutti International Inc.

ProhensEconomou recalled that last season there was a lot of early fruit from Chile that resulted in a market collapse that plagued U.S. distributors of Chilean fruit through the middle of the season. The back half of the deal proved to be a bit better as supplies dwindled, allowing for a stronger market. This season, he expects a much more orderly marketing situation, which had already taken root when he spoke to The Produce News in late December. “Peru already has both red and greens (grapes) in here and we have a good market,” he said, adding that the action on red seedless varieties was very active and he expected green seedless sales to pick up after Christmas.

Chilean grapes were readily available to the U.S. market the week following Christmas, which put them in the middle of a good marketing opportunity.

Economou noted that California shippers finished up their red grape deal by mid-December and there were very few California green grapes, if any, in the marketplace after Christmas.

As such, Tastyfrutti was poised for a strong sales situation in the new year. Economou said retailer interest appears to be high and he expects promotions once the volume starts to flow in January. Tastyfrutti will import most of its fruit from South America into the mid-East Coast seaboard, including ports in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. “And about 30 percent of the Chilean crop will come into Los Angeles, which includes the combined ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.”

Economou said that he expects that the Chilean deal will last into the spring and allow grape distributors and retailers to transition nicely between Chile’s crop and the spring output from Mexico and California’s Coachella Valley. However, he said it is much too early to make predictions about that transition period, which is typically in late April or early May. Many factors, most notably weather, will determine when the new crops begin and how long Chile lasts. He said that while new production areas in Mexico promise an earlier start on average, those new areas are only newly planted. They are not expected to yield impactful volume until at least two or three years down the road, according to the Tastyfrutti executive.