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Chilean Fresh Fruit Association sees increases ahead for cherries, blueberries, grapes

The Chilean Fresh Fruit Association is gearing up for a big year for Chilean cherries and blueberries. Its year-to-date shipments to the U.S., overall are up 365 percent over the same period last year.  

“As always, our marketing programs will have a strong retail focus,” said Karen Brux, managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association. “All our programs are tailored to what the retailer wants and needs, and range from in-store merchandising programs, like the bins we have for cherries, and demos to promoting on retail websites and newsletters, to funding ads and digital coupons. If there are any new tactics that a retailer wants to explore, we are definitely open to that.”

For consumer marketing, the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association focuses on social media platforms, with a strong emphasis on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.  

“We are constantly producing new content and reels that will engage our followers and motivate them to eat more Chilean fruit,” Brux said.

The ASOEX Cherry Committee, which represents more than 85 percent of the volume of Chilean cherry exports to the world, estimates that 95.4 million boxes of cherries will be ready for the 2023-24 season.

“Although the new estimate shows an increase of 15 percent compared to last season’s shipments, we must keep in mind that, given the climatic reality that is being faced, it is a volume that varies constantly,” said Claudia Soler, executive director of the Chilean Cherry Committee. “We have never had a season so difficult to estimate, since the volumes vary week by week, especially due to agroclimatic issues that we have been facing as a sector. For this reason, this first estimate does not include the effect of the latest rains, nor adjustments for late fruit set.”  

The committee will be delivering an updated estimate at the end of November.

While there’s no estimate of how much will be sent to the U.S. at this time, the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association is expanding its promotion program in the U.S. and Canada and expects volume will continue to increase.  

“Having received just 4 percent of total volume last year, we still have strong growth potential,” Brux said. “We’re the second largest market, but still very small.”

The Chilean Blueberry Committee recently undertook qualitative trade research, conducting numerous interviews with blueberry importers and retailers to understand where the industry needed to focus in order to become more competitive in the U.S. market.  

“The Chilean blueberry exporters and growers are taking the results very seriously, and the industry as a whole is working diligently to provide the best quality blueberries to this market,” Brux said.

In terms of blueberry promotions this season, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council will be implementing a number of consumer and retail programs during the winter months.  

“This is an assessment program that is supported by everyone supplying blueberries to the U.S. market, including Chile,” Brux said. “We look forward to great promotions for Southern Hemisphere blueberries.”

Table grapes are also expected to see a five percent increase this season based on recent data from the Table Grape Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association.

The committee is projecting 63.7 millon 18-pound boxes for the 2023-2024 season.

“This projected growth is due primarily to an increase in the production of new varieties, which will represent 63 percent of Chile’s total fresh grape exports this season, close to 40 million boxes,” said ASOEX President Iván Marambio. “This first estimate clearly reflects the commitment of Chilean producers and exporters to supply their global markets and consumers with the best varieties.”

The first shipments of Chilean grapes are scheduled for mid-November.

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