Archive For The “News” Category

U.S. Online Grocery Sales Experience Another Drop

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A decline in the frequency of online grocery orders drove a 1.2% year-over-year drop in total online sales to $95.8 billion in the U.S. online grocery market in 2023, according to the annual results of the Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopper Survey released Thursday, Supermarket News reports. 

It’s the second year in a row that the order frequency of active monthly users (MAUs) declined, according to the report, which surveyed 21,000 shoppers in the U.S. That year-over-year contraction in online orders came in at 6% compared to the prior year, surpassing the 4% year-over-year decline in 2022, the report noted. 

The decline in orders was exacerbated by a 300 basis-point increase to 34% in the number of MAUs who said they made only one online grocery purchase per month in 2023. 

Despite the drop in online orders for the year, the base of MAUs rose 2% year over year. Shoppers appear to have largely settled on a receiving method with 70% saying they exclusively relied on either pickup, delivery, or ship-to-home, up 172 basis points from the previous year. 

Pickup held steady as the most popular way of receiving online orders, growing its share of online sales by a modest 56 basis points to end the year at 46%. The report added that the expanded availability of delivery methods due to increased competition did not appear to help grow the receiving method, which experienced a sales decline of 0.9% for the year and captured 37% of the online sales market. Meanwhile, the ship-to-home method dropped 66 basis points to make up 17% of the market for the year. 

“These annual results show that 2023 was very challenging for grocery retailing as higher prices chipped away at household purchasing power even though inflation has slowed considerably since its peak in 2022,” said David Bishop, partner at Brick Meets Click, in a statement. “Despite the challenges, pickup continues to prove its appeal to shoppers, even without the benefits of expanded availability and/or aggressive promotions that aided delivery in 2023.” 

Mass merchandisers and hard discount grocers expanded their shares of the online grocery market in 2023 by 460 basis points to end the year with 45% due to strong MAU growth. The growth came at the expense of the supermarket format, which dropped 390 basis points to 29% for the year, a result of declining MAUs and order frequency. 

Shoppers increasingly chose to place their online purchases through both mass merchandise and supermarket formats for the year as the cross-shopping rate increased by 150 basis points from the previous year. Nearly a third (30%) of shoppers purchased online groceries from both in the same month over the year, the report noted. 

The repeat intent rate – the share of MAUs who are very likely to use the same service again – for the pickup and delivery methods of online purchases declined in 2023 by 63 basis points to 61%, a trend driven solely by a decline in repeat intent for grocery services, which fell 311 basis points to 54%. That’s compared to an increase in repeat intent for mass merchandise shoppers, which grew by 48 basis points to 66%. 

“As Walmart grabs market share through its price leadership and omnichannel strategies, regional grocers find themselves in a precarious position. To remain competitive, they must intensify their efforts in improving customer engagement, offering tailored personalization, and building loyalty. This strategic shift is not just about weathering the storm of price inflation and intense competition, but about thriving in it,” said Mark Fairhurst, global chief growth officer at Mercatus, in a statement. “By providing a shopping experience that is both seamless and highly personalized, grocery retailers can retain their existing customer base and gradually attract a wider audience.” 

Total online grocery spending declined 18 basis points to capture 12.5% of the market for the year. When considering just the pickup and delivery methods – most stores do not offer ship-to-home as a delivery method – the decline was a mere 6 basis points year over year and made up 10.4% of all grocery spending in 2023. 

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International Logistics in the Red Sea

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By Scott Fontes ALC Orlando

International logistics plays a crucial role in facilitating global trade and commerce by connecting businesses across continents. The Red Sea, a key maritime route, is currently experiencing significant disruptions that have led to impacts on international logistics. The ongoing geopolitical tensions in the region, coupled with environmental challenges, are reshaping the landscape of maritime transportation. Shipping times and costs have increased, adding significant delays and costs. Oil and gas prices have jumped following news of attacks, and shipping insurance premiums have nearly doubled for some carriers. Even if attacks stopped today, the effects will take a significant time to resolve.

The Red Sea has become a focal point for tensions and conflicts, influencing the safety and efficiency of shipping lanes. By January 2024, only 200,000 standard containers were passing through the waterway per day, compared with around 450,000 in December 2022. Strategic chokepoints, such as the Bab-el-Mandeb and the Suez Canal, are vital passages for vessels navigating between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Political instability in the surrounding areas can lead to heightened security concerns, affecting the smooth flow of goods. According to the AP, “The governments of Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Korea joined the U.S. and U.K. in issuing a statement saying that while the aim is to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea, the allies won’t hesitate to defend lives and protect commerce in the critical waterway.” Instead of sailing through the Red Sea, ships traveling between Asia and Europe are now being re-routed around Africa and the Cape of Good Hope. Stakeholders in international logistics are closely monitoring these developments to assess potential disruptions to supply chains.

Furthermore, environmental factors like extreme temperatures, strong currents, occasional coral reefs, and weather events pose challenges to maritime operations in the Red Sea. Rising sea levels and changing weather patterns can impact navigation, port infrastructure, and overall logistics efficiency. Companies engaged in international trade must adapt to these environmental shifts, incorporating resilience measures into their logistical strategies.

As the Red Sea continues to play a pivotal role in global trade routes, a comprehensive understanding of both geopolitical and environmental dynamics is essential for the sustainable functioning of international logistics networks. By embracing innovation and responsible practices, we can ensure that the Red Sea remains a vital and sustainable lifeline for international trade in the years to come.


Scott Fontes began working for the Allen Lund Company in 2023 as an international logistics specialist in the Orlando office. Scott joined the company with years of experience in transportation, most recently as a logistics manager for an OTR transportation company.

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Mexico Continues Growth of Watermelon Shipments in 2023

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Mexican watermelon shipments hit 1.199 million tons at the end of November 2023, exceeding the annual totals for 2021 and 2022.

If this upward trend continues, it could be among the top 10 producing countries, according to Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The U.S. is the largest importer, showing the quality reputation obtained in terms of quality, health and safety, coupled with the effort and commitment of the producers, the ministry said.

Data from the Agri-Food and Fisheries Information Service (SIAP) indicate that the volume of the penultimate month of last year represents an increase of 0.4 and 1.8 percent compared to the 1.194 million tons and 1.177 million tons reported in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Sonora was the largest producing state – of the 27 that cultivate the fruit – contributing 373,084 tons from January to November 2023.

Chihuahua follows, with 143,229 tons; then Jalisco, 102,795 tons; Veracruz, 94,096 tons; and Campeche, with 80,058 tons, the latter entity went from ninth position in 2022, with 36,985 tons, to fifth place.

On the other hand, the ministry indicated that the participation of watermelon amounts to 4.7 percent in national production and annual per capita consumption in the country is 3.5 kilograms.

The above because – according to specialists – watermelon is one of the healthiest fruits as it has water that makes it ideal against dehydration and is very refreshing in hot weather, it has vitamins A, B and C and helps strengthen the immune system.

The federal agency pointed out that, in addition, the greater volume of watermelon has allowed volumes exceeding 700,000 tons per year to be allocated abroad, where the United States is the largest importer, with an amount of $153 million in 2022.

Japan, Canada, Belize, Cuba, Colombia, and the UAE are also among the destination countries for Mexican watermelon, a fruit that belongs to the cucurbit family and is characterized by its red pulp and sweet flavor, he explained.

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8 Percent Jump in Mexican Blueberry Shipments is Seen

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An 8 percent increase from 2023 is forecast for Mexican blueberry shipments, according to a new USDA report.

The U.S. is the top export market for Mexican blueberries, accounting for about 97% market share. 

Mexico’s 2024 blueberry production is pegged at 81,000 metric tons, an increase because of sufficient water access and growing export demand, according to the report.

With more than 71,000 metric tons exported in 2022, Mexico ships more than 95 percent of their blueberries to the U.S. market.

The rate of production growth for Mexican blueberries is projected to be slower in 2024 than it was in 2023 due to competition from Peru, according to the USDA.

In 2023, Mexican blueberry production reached an estimated 74,800 metric tons, a 12 percent increase over the previous year due to production innovations and strong export demand.

Mexico’s blueberry industry has seen rapid growth in the past decade, with rising prices encouraging growers to expand production or switch from other crops to blueberries.

Mexican blueberry volume grew more than 80 percent between 2017 and 2022, with Mexico currently the world’s fifth-largest blueberry producer.

Mexico’s harvest use to start in early October, peaking between late April and early May. In contrast, for the 2024 harvest, producers have taken steps to delay the start of the harvest to early February in response to competition from Peru, which offers a similar product at lower prices during the October to January period, according to the USDA.

Producers are actively switching away from the biloxi blueberry variety to take advantage of the ongoing development of improved varieties that provide higher yields and better taste. 23 percent of the blueberry area is currently planted with the biloxi variety and 74 percent is planted with proprietary varieties.

The vast majority of Mexican blueberries are exported. Mexican blueberry exports totaled 71,509 metric tons in 2022, down about 2 percent compared to 2021.

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Maersk Closing Transits through Panama Canal; Planning to Use Railroad

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Maersk plans to eliminate Panama Canal vessel transits on a north-south service between Oceania and the U.S. East Coast, citing the ongoing drought that has reduced ship transits and container carrying capacity through the waterway, Journal of Commerce reports. 

The Copenhagen-based carrier said Wednesday that its OC1 service linking Australia and New Zealand with the ports of Philadelphia and Charleston will instead use a 50-mile rail service across the Isthmus of Panama to handle cargo between the Atlantic and Pacific. 

As a result, the OC1 service will be broken into two loops, Maersk said. The Pacific loop will drop off northbound cargo at Balboa for the land bridge service via rail to Manzanillo, where the Atlantic loop will retrieve the cargo and resume waterborne service. 

The carrier did not say whether the nearly 26-day transit time from New Zealand to Philadelphia would change due to the land bridge. It said that while northbound cargo will not be delayed, southbound cargo may see some delays. 

Other Maersk services from Asia to the US East Coast will continue to use the Panama Canal.

Along with the Panama Canal, Maersk said the OC1 would omit Cartagena, Colombia, as a call. It also directed shippers to the option of its PANZ service between Oceania and the US West Coast. 

Maersk said the decision to omit the Panama Canal crossing on OC1 was “based on current and projected water levels in Gatun Lake,” which provides the water to raise and lower vessels in the canal’s locks. As of Wednesday, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) said Gatun Lake was at 81.6 feet, compared with a five-year average water level for January of 86.9 feet. 

Low water levels have forced the ACP to only allow 24 ships of any size to transit the Canal daily, down from the 35 to 40 ships it could handle before the ongoing drought that has reduced Gatun’s water levels. Ships must also carry less cargo as the Canal is limiting the maximum depth of neo-Panamax vessels to 44 feet from 50 feet. Smaller Panamax vessels, such as the ones in the OC1 service, are restricted to a 39.5-foot depth versus the typical 45 feet. 

In early December, ocean carriers in THE Alliance said they were preparing to divert east-west vessel services from the Panama Canal due to the potential for transits being reduced to as few as 18 by February. But with better-than-projected water levels on Gatun Lake, the ACP did not implement that further reduction. 

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California’s Carbon Cutting Course

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By Charlie Fabricant, ALC Corporate

With the growth in awareness around climate change, the supply chain industry is taking significant strides to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining the crucial service of keeping our economy flowing. Many companies across all sectors, driven by altruism or differentiation, are incorporating ESG-focused improvements. In 2021, 73% of S&P 500 companies tied their executives’ compensation to ESG metrics. Governments are investigating additional ways to push organizations to decarbonize. One avenue that many regulators are exploring is requiring companies to publicly share their annual carbon emission data. Both California and the EU have already passed emission disclosure bills, and the SEC is expected to release U.S. wide regulations this Spring. With the transportation sector currently leading all business sectors in carbon emissions, ALC is developing low-carbon shipping programs to help our customers with their reduction and reporting goals. 

To provide a very brief explanation of GHG (greenhouse gas) accounting, there are three “scopes” of emissions. Scope 1 and 2 cover direct (owned assets) and indirect (purchased utilities) emissions, which are largely controllable by reporting companies. Scope 3 includes more complex calculations from production to disposal, including all emissions associated with a manufacturer’s or retailer’s supply chain, a significant aspect of which is transportation. For example, if you were a car manufacturer, your scope 3 would include the emissions associated with the first metal being mined through the post consumer disposal and everything in between (excluding emissions captured in scope 1 and 2). The SEC regulation was originally proposed in 2022, but has been pushed back multiple times due to the difficulties associated with reporting scope 3 emissions. Due to the truckload market’s fractured nature, many shippers work with multiple transportation partners, further increasing the difficulty of consolidating this data. 

So, now that I have made ESG seem scary, here’s the soothing part…In order to address environmental concerns, our company uses an EPA and CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) based calculator which provides truckload emission data. In addition, we’re developing a ‘Green Carrier Base’, recruiting low-emission carriers for sustainable shipping needs who will have a reportable emission reduction when compared to traditional fleets. Investigations into alternative fuels, such as renewable diesel, compressed natural gas, and eventually electric charging, are also underway with the goal of setting up a fuel delivery program for interested carriers and shippers through our partner, one of the U.S.’s largest energy providers. We’re also partnering with a unique carbon offset company which prioritizes additionality and building local coalitions of small-businesses and community leaders to ensure long-term environmental and economic benefits. We all live together on the same planet, and reducing our carbon footprint should be important to us all. Reach out to me if you’d like to have a conversation.


Charlie Fabricant graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2021 with a double major in Economics and Human & Organizational Development with a minor in Environmental Sustainability. He joined the Nashville office as an undergraduate intern in 2021 and became a transportation broker along with the company’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) coordinator. In 2024, he was promoted to ESG programs manager.

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Grocery Report Shows Optimism for 2024, Discounts for Weary Shoppers

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NEW YORK — Incisiv, a next-generation industry insights firm that helps retailers and brands navigate digital disruption, and Wynshop, the leading provider of digital commerce and fulfillment solutions for local store-based retailers, today revealed the findings from Grocery Doppio’s December 2023 Digital Grocery Performance Scorecard.

Grocery finished the year strong in December, with a 12.6% jump in overall sales, and 9% in digital sales, as compared with November.

This left grocers ‘mildly optimistic’ about business opportunities in 2024, with 57% reporting that they expect a better year in 2024 than they had in 2023. Here’s how they ranked their top business opportunities for 2024:

  • launching/growing retail media: 81%
  • scaling personalization: 76%
  • increasing profitability: 64%
  • improving price/promotion: 64%

For grocery shoppers, on the other hand, cost control and wellness are the biggest influencing factors to their immediate priorities. 83% of shoppers said they are focused on savings, discounts and promotions at this time, and 69% said they prefer easy-to-understand deals like “$2 off” and “2-for-the-price-of-1” rather than % discounts. Meanwhile, 67% plan to shop healthier foods in 2024, 23% intend to buy more organic produce, and 64% desire to dine together as a family more frequently.

The December 2023 performance scorecard is based on aggregated data from 2.3 million U.S. shopper orders, plus polling of 42,267 grocery shoppers and 4,081 grocery executives between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023.

More key findings from Grocery Doppio’s “December 2023 Digital Grocery Performance Scorecard” include:

  • 74% of grocers expect to discount/promote the same amount or more in 2024 than they did in 2023.
  • 86% of shoppers plan to buy both in-store and digitally in 2024.
  • Grocery pickup increased by 3.4% in December, compared with November 2023. And 17% of shoppers will increase their use of pick-up services in 2024.

“Inflation has not abated, and shoppers remain focused on price going into 2024,” said Gaurav Pant, Chief Insights Officer of both Incisiv and Grocery Doppio. “As basket sizes and average price/item continue to grow from month to month, the pressure is on grocers to come up with the attractive promotions and discounts that shoppers desire.”

“Shoppers are looking for healthy options, cost saving opportunities, and satisfaction of other individual interests,” added Charlie Kaplan, Chief Revenue Officer at Wynshop. “To maintain customer loyalty and improve profitability in 2024, grocers need the ability to generate highly accurate and scalable personalized search results and recommendations in their digital channels.”

The December 2023 Digital Grocery Performance Scorecard is one of many resources available on Grocery Doppio. Grocery Doppio is a free, independent source of grocery insights and data designed to help grocers jumpstart, accelerate, and sustain digital growth.

Grocery Doppio brings together research-driven grocery content, fact-based observations, and industry expert perspectives, to deliver a monthly performance scorecard that identifies improvement opportunities for grocery retailers.

To download Grocery Doppio’s “December 2023 Digital Grocery Performance Scorecard,” click here.

About Incisiv
Incisiv is a next-generation industry insights firm that helps retailers and brands navigate digital disruption in their industry. Incisiv offers consumer industry executives responsible for digital transformation a trusted platform to share and learn in a non-competitive setting, and the tools necessary to improve digital maturity, impact, and profitability. More information is available at

About Wynshop
Wynshop is an ambitious team of digital innovators obsessed with a solitary mission—helping grocers and other local store-based retailers grow wildly successful online businesses. Its refreshingly easy-to-use digital commerce platform enables efficient in-house picking, reduces fulfillment costs, and gives retailers the ability to control every facet of their customers’ digital shopping experience. This results in a more personalized customer journey and amplified shopper loyalty. 

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Spot and Contract Rate Gap Narrows in December: DAT

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BEAVERTON, OR — Spot truckload rates rose in December, and the gap between spot and contract van rates closed to its narrowest point since March 2022 when prices to move truckload freight were near all-time highs, said DAT Freight & Analytics, which operates the DAT One online freight marketplace and DAT iQ data analytics service.

A convergence of spot and contract rates would signal an end to the current cycle of falling prices for truckload services.

“At 39 cents, the spread between spot and contract van rates is still substantial but was down 7 cents compared to November,” said DAT Chief of Analytics Ken Adamo. “The price to move van freight under contract hit its lowest point in nearly three years. Entering 2024, shippers are in a strong position as they negotiate contract rates, and carriers on the spot market have some optimism that the market will turn.”

Freight volumes fell for all three equipment types
The DAT Truckload Volume Index (TVI) fell for all three equipment types compared to November:

  • Van TVI: 221, 8.7% lower month over month
  • Refrigerated TVI: 182, down 5.7%
  • Flatbed TVI: 203, down 14.7%

The van and refrigerated (“reefer”) indexes were down nearly 2% year over year.

“Lower van freight volumes suggest that shippers drew from inventory ahead of the holidays,” said Adamo. “Disappointing freight volumes and less demand for over-the-road truckload services tempered the bump in spot rates.”

Spot rates increased for all three equipment types
Spot line-haul rates, which subtract an amount equal to an average fuel surcharge, increased for all three equipment types compared to November:

  • Line-haul van rate: $1.65 per mile, up 7 cents
  • Line-haul reefer rate: $1.98, up 4 cents
  • Line-haul flatbed rate: $1.87, up 4 cents

Changes to DAT’s broker-to-carrier benchmark spot rates were mixed. The spot van rate averaged $2.10 per mile, up 3 cents compared to November. The reefer and flatbed rate dipped 2 cents to $2.47 and $2.41 a mile, respectively.

he contract van rate fell 4 cents to $2.49 per mile, the lowest since February 2021. The reefer rate was down 6 cents to $2.88 a mile, while the flatbed rate fell 3 cents to $3.14.

Load-to-truck ratios indicated a soft market for carriers
DAT’s national average load-to-truck ratios slumped, driven by the decline in freight volumes:

  • Van ratio: 1.9, down from 2.1 in November and from 3.4 in December 2022
  • Reefer ratio: 3.4, down from 4.4 in November and from 5.7 year over year
  • Flatbed ratio: 5.1, down from 5.9 in November and from 9.8 year over year

Load-to-truck ratios measure the number of loads posted to the DAT One marketplace relative to the number of trucks. Changes in the ratio typically reflect the pricing environment for truckload services on the spot market.

About the DAT Truckload Volume Index
The DAT Truckload Volume Index reflects the change in the number of loads with a pickup date during that month; the actual index number is normalized each month to accommodate any new data sources without distortion. A baseline of 100 equals the number of loads moved in January 2015, as recorded in DAT RateView, a truckload pricing database and analysis tool with rates paid on an average of 3 million loads per month.

Spot truckload rates are negotiated for each load and paid to the carrier by a freight broker. National average spot rates are derived from payments to carriers by freight brokers, third-party logistics providers and other transportation buyers for hauls of 250 miles or more with a pickup date during the month reported. DAT’s rate analysis is based on $150 billion in annualized freight transactions.

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Container Shipping Report Predicts Under Demand and Oversupply

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Container xChange has released its “2023 Shipping Industry Trends and Future of Shipping in 2024” report.

The second annual report analyzes key impacts that shaped the container shipping industry in 2023 and provides predictions and scenarios for 2024 with an aim to help the industry plan ahead for what the report called a “grumpy” 2024, according to a news release.

Overall, the report indicates a high probability of market recovery failure in 2024, the release said. 

The industry surveys conducted with supply chain professionals globally indicate that, in 2024, the shipping industry is predicted to grapple with persistently reduced demand and oversupply, potentially leading to fiercer competition, further reduced profits and possible market consolidation, the release said.

Although container schedule reliability is improving, persistent challenges remain. Blank sailings are expected to rise in response to market volatility, while imbalanced container availability, driven by economic crises, may continue in certain regions, according to the release.

The shipping industry faces the risk of oversupply in 2024 as deliveries are set to increase to 2.95 million TEUs, according to the release. The surge in deliveries, including “Megamaxes” and “Neopanamaxes,” may lead to intense competition, reduced profits, and potential mergers and acquisitions, the release said.

Carriers, particularly in North America, are navigating a delicate balance between government-driven demand and rising interest rates.

“Overordering of ships during the economic boom could create overcapacity, turning 2023’s profits into 2024’s losses,” the release said. “The sector is projected to face challenges to restore supply and demand equilibrium until 2026.”

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2023 Chilean Fresh Fruit Exports Decline 5.4 Percent

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Between January and October of 2023, Chile exported over 2.9 million tons of fruit, valued at $6.85 billion FOB.

Compared to the same period in 2022, this is a decrease in exported volume of 5.4 percent and an increase of 9 percent in value, as reported by Odepa.

Of this total in value, 70.7 percent is for fruit, 20.1 percent to processed fruit (juices, oils, preserves, frozen, dehydrated), and 9.1 percent to dried fruits (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, among others).

Fresh fruit volume reached 2,254,000 tons, amounting to $4.85 billion FOB for the period. These exports registered a decrease in volume of 6.6 percent, and in value an increase of 13.2 percent compared to the same period of the previous year.

The main commodities exported in the analysis period in this group were cherries, registering a volume of 302,842 tons, equivalent to $1.82 billion FOB, which represents 37.6 percent of the total value of fresh fruit exports in the analysis period. An increase of 6.1 percent in volume and 21.9 percent in value is evident in shipments of this fruit, compared to the same period in 2022. The main destination is China (91.1 percent of the total value of exports of Chilean cherries were sent to that country).

Table grapes are next in volume, with 495,308 tons equivalent to $892.7 million FOB, which represents 18.4 percent of the total value of fresh fruit exports. There was a decrease in shipments of 18 percent in volume and an increase in value of 3.5 percent, compared to the same period of the previous year, with the U.S. standing out as the main buyer in this period (47.7 percent) and China (13.1 percent).

In third place are apples, with shipments of 461,500 tons equivalent to $484 million FOB, which represents 10 percent of the total value of fresh fruit exports. There is a decrease of 20.3 percent in volume shipped and 1.1 percent in value, compared to the same period of the previous year. The main destination country was the U.S. (concentrating 14 percent of the total value of apple shipments), followed by Colombia (concentrating 13 percent), and Brazil (10 percent).

And in fourth place are blueberries, with shipments of 72,992 tons and $327 million FOB, equivalent to 6.7 percent of the total value of fresh fruit exports. There is a decrease of 19.5 percent in volume shipped and 8.8 percent in value compared to the same period of the previous year. The main destinations were the U.S. (48.6 percent) and the Netherlands (19.3 percent).

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