A significant increase in Chilean blueberry exports are expected this season, while Chilean grape exports could see a small decline. Additionally, with more volume in Chilean cherry exports, this should translate into more fruit from that South American country arriving on U.S. shores.
The Chilean Fresh Fruit Association reports grapes easily account for the largest Chilean fruit export to the U.S., representing nearly 40 percent of all the Chilean fruit shipped here. A drought in Chile is being blamed for an expected slight decrease in export volumes. Official estimates for the 2019-20 season are only 1.6 percent lower than last season.
It is estimated that about 78.5 million boxes will be exported to the U.S. this year, which, which would mean only about 1.3 million boxes less than the previous season. Blueberries, cherries and the stone fruits are expected to make up the difference over the next four to five months.
In 2017-18 there were 6.2 million boxes of Flame Seedless exported to the United States, while last season (2018-19) volume dropped to 2.1 million boxes. Flame Seedless has been an industry standard for decades but is being replaced with newer varieties such as Timco and Allison. Timco volume grew by 61 percent and Allison by 72 percent in the past year.
Chilean grape shipments began in late December and should increase through January and continue into May.
Cherries from Chile have been in the U.S. marketplace for a couple of months with shipments continuing and increasing through January. The vast majority of Chilean cherries are exported to China.
Chilean fruit companies are projecting that they will export about 42 million five kilogram cartons this year, which will represent a 16 percent increase over last season.
North America receives about 60 percent of Chilean blueberry exports. With organic “blues,” North America accounts for 96 percent the Chilean exports. Chilean fresh blueberry exports are expected to grow by about 4 percent during the 2019-20 season led by organics.
Chilean stone fruits account for less than 10 percent of the country’s fruit exports to the U.S.