If you’ve noticed fewer loading opportunities for Chilean fruit arriving by boat at U.S. ports on both coasts, you’re correct. However, less product has been coming mostly because of growing conditions in South America, not from a union port strike in Chile that has been on and off, but apparently is over, at least for now.
For exmple, Chilean blueberry exports are at 22,516 tons, compared to 34,000 tons the same time last year. However, blueberry exports are support to be increasing now.
Chile exported 8,356 tons of cherries this this season compared to 7,998 last year. Plum exports are unchanged from a year ago.
Stone fruits were hit harder by Chilean weather and the country has exported 2,252 tons of peaches compared to 6,425 tons last year. Nectarines are off 5,411 tons from a year ago compared to 2,828 tons this year. Apricots have also been down at 232 tons compared to 822 during the same period last year.
Last September several frosts hit Chile, with stone fruit and kiwifruit being hit the hardest. In mid-January, estimated losses 64 percent for Chilean peaches, 59 percent for nectarines and 63 percent for plums. Chilean kiwifruit losses were pegged at 60 percent.
Chilean grapes lead volume of that country fruit arrivals to America. Arrivals at ports is now peaking, but will taper off early than normal – probably March – due to later varieties being hit hardest by a freeze last September.
Over the past 25 years Chile has become a major player in global markets, in large part because its seasons are opposite that of the U.S. and a number of other countries. This allows it export to the U.S. for example, when many American produce items are out of season.