Posts Tagged “Chile”

Chilean Fruit Imports Continue to Grow – and it Takes a Truck to Deliver

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DSCN0057When it seems the U.S. has fewer friends on the world stage, one exception continues to be the South American country of Chile.   The United States enjoys a symbiotic relationship with Chile. The country ranks sixth among Florida’s top product export destinations, with over $3.9 billion in exports in 2011.  Florida exports to Chile increased at a rate of 24.3 percent through October 2012.

The U.S. received 74 percent of total Chilean citrus exports in 2012.

And once that Chilean fruit arrives at an American port, you can bet it takes a truck to get it to the final destination.

Also in 2012, the U.S. imported fresh blueberries valued at nearly $419.8 million, a 12 percent increase from the previous year.  Just over 50 percent of those fresh blueberries originated in Chile, which provides fresh blueberries to U.S. markets during the period of mid-November through January.

 Canada shares a high demand for Chilean fruit with the U.S.  According to a press release issued by Chilean Fresh Fruit Association in May 2013, Loblaws, a leading Canadian supermarket chain, increased its use of Chilean fruit by more than 20 percent during an import promotional period earlier in the year.  Loblaws serves more than 14 million shoppers a week. It also has over a thousand stores across the entire Canadian territory.

There is also another issue to consider when thinking about the future relationship between the U.S. and Chile and other South American and Central American countries.  Geographically they may be closer than other nations, like those of Asia or Europe, but fresh produce moves quickly today.

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From Strawberries to Grapes, Things are Changing at Your Favorite Store

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In case you haven’t noticed strawberries in retail supermarket are costing about 30 percent more, or about a dollar more per 16 ounce claimshell package, than only a few weeks ago.  After a summer of plentiful supplies, this is the time of year when strawberry production is in a transition from the bountiful fields at Watsonville, CA to areas further south, such as Ventura and Orange counties, as well as in Mexico.  It will be the first of the year before supplies increase, and perhaps some break in what you are paying in the stores.

Long gone are days of 99-cent-per-pound apples.  Yet, this fruit is one of the better buys in produce departments.  Despite a freeze wiping out the vast majority of apples in Michigan last spring, plus cold weather hitting New York apples hard, the nation should have nine percent more apples than a year ago – thanks to a humongous crop in Washington state.  Still it depends on the variety, what you will pay.  For example, two of my favorites, the Gala and the fuji apples are selling at my store for $1.77 per pound.  However, another favorite of mine, the Ambrosia apples, costs about 50 percent more.

Table grapes have been another wonderful eating experience this year.  California’s crop has been so sweet and cruncy I sure hate to see the season end.  I’m noticing the late season grapes from California are not quit as good as the super tasting product that has been available for month.  Grapes also have been one of the best buys in the produce department.  The California product will soon be replaced by grapes from Chile.  We can only hope Chile has as good a crop.

Other good buys in the produce department continue to be bananas and kiwifruit.


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Potato Loads, Georgia Veggies and Imported Grapes

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USA potato loads will be up eight percent over a year ago when this season ends around August.  The 991,500 acres of spuds is six percent more than athe previous season.  Of course, Idaho shipments easily lead all other states, but there are significant loadings available in Washington state, Oregon, Wisconsin, the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota, among others.

Idaho is shipping about 1750 truckload equivalents of potatoes per week, although a greater percentage is shipped by rail than most other spud production areas….By contrast, Colorado’s San Luis Valley is moving about 1000 loads per week, all by truck.

Southeastern Greens

Central and southern areas of Georgia are loading  collards, kale, mustard and turnip tops for the holidays.  Loads of greens should continue from Georgia into March or April, depending on the weather.  Broccoli also is being shipped.

Chilean Imported Grapes

While Chilean grapes are starting to  arrive in the USA anytime now, it will be late January before good volume and loading opportunities are available at USA ports.   Grapes arriving at such ports as Wilmington, NC; Philadelphia, and Long Beach, CA are shipped throughout the states and into Canada, with volume expected to top last year.

Georgia vegetables – grossing about $2800 to Boston.

Idaho potatoes – about $5400 to New York

Colorado potatoes – about $2000 to San Antonio.


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California Port Strikes End, but Logistics Problems Remain

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Although the eight-day strike at ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach has ended, picking up and delivering loads to the terminals is still a mess and it could be for weeks.

It is not like the flexibility in trucking where a load can be diverted elsewhere due to a labor strike, weather factors or any number of other reasons.

Container terminals reopened Dec. 5 at both California ports as clerical workers in International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 reached a tentative contract with operators and shipping lines, as the union sought limits on outsourcing.  In L.A. about 700 striking harbor clerks were backed by thousands of longshoremen who honored their picket line.

About $8 billion was lost in the strike to the local economy.

While the strike has ended,  the congestion has not. 

The cold chain was maintained, but there were concerns about arrival conditions and the possibility of an increase in orders that could challenge capacity.

It has been report  the impacts of the strike will be far greater than just eight days.  In 2002 there was  a 10-day strike.  It took months the  boats could get back in the right rotation.  This could adversely affect, for example, imported fruit from Chile arriving at Long Beach.

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Christmas Produce Shipments are Starting

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Christmas is only three weeks away and produce holiday shipments have already started with some items.

The last of fresh cranberry loads are now moving to USA markets, but primarily from Central Wisconsin.  While Massachusetts often promises Christmas shipments, it has a checkered history of actually delivering, primarily due to quality issues and the demand from the processing marketing.

Probably the most reliable is The Cranberry Network LLC, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., which markets fruit grown by Tomah, WI-based Habelman Bros. Co., the nation’s largest fresh cranberry grower.  It plans on packing and shipping fresh-market cranberries through mid-December.

In Texas,  the Winter Garden District located just south of San Antonio is gearing up with cabbage, broccoli and onion shipments.  Further south in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, there are grapefruit and orange loads available, as well as a variety of vegetables, not only from the valley, but crossing the border from Mexico.


California has a big clementine crop this season coming out of the San Joaquin Valley.  The valley continues to ship a record setting table grape crop, which will be winding down in coming weeks.

In the desert areas of California (Imperial Valley) and Arizona (Yuma), volume is increasing on vegetables.   Last winter was very mild and unlike many past winters, picks and loads were not significantly disrupted by weather factors.  Odds are this won’t happen in two consecutive years, but we’ll find out in the weeks and months ahead.


Imported Spanish clementines arriving on the East Coast are expected to be 25-30 percent lower than last season.

Importers of Peruvian and Chilean onions expect good movement and good quality with winter approaching.  Arrivals are taking place now with onions from Peru, while onions from Chile will start arriving anytime,  a 20 percent drop is seen.

Imperial Valley vegetables – grossing about $3800 to Chicago.





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Increasing Imports Mean More Produce Loads During Winter

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Over the past two decades imported fresh fruits and vegetables have increased substantially.  Not only does this mean year around availability of many items for consumers, but increased loading opportunities – especially during the off season when these items are not available in the USA.  Here’s a look at some produce coming from other countries.

Blueberries from Chile are arriving in the USA and  will continue through April.  With the arrival of the New Year will be the appearance at USA ports with Chilean table grapes and stone fruit.

There is good movement of Central American cantaloupes, honeydews and Mexican honeydews.  Loadings of product from Guatemala should continue into about the second week of January.  Many of the Central American imports arrive a Florida ports.  Imported cantaloupe are crossing the border into Texas from Mexico.  Asparagus is being imported from  Mexico and Peru and should increase in volume in December.

Typically in January, volume from Mexico through Nogales, AZ really picks up, led by table grapes, but including a number of other items.

Biggest Change with Imports Coming Soon

The biggest change in decades with imported produce will start occuring a matter of weeks.  Historically, south Texas has been a major produce shipping area with its fruits and veggies from the Lower Rio Grande Valley and to a much lesser degree from the Winter Garden District, just south of San Antonio.

However, over the past 20 years a lot has changed in Texas.  Today, about 65 percent of the fresh produce moved by Lone Star State shippers is grown in Mexico, with the balance grown in Texas.  The state now ranks third in USA produce shipments, having surpassed Arizona.  California and Florida rank first and second respectively in fresh produce loads.

While much of the imports from Mexico over the years have crossed the border into the USA from Nogales and Tijuana, a significant amount of this tonnage will be shifting to the McAllen, TX border area.  This is due to the 143-mile-long Durango-Mazatlan highway expected to open before the end of the year.

Produce shippers are excited because the new route will mean produce shipments that used to arrive at Nogales and Tijuana and destined from Midwestern and Eastern markets, will no longer have to travel two mountain ranges.  It also is expected to reduce freight costs up to a $1,000.



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Chilean Fruit Imports will be Starting Soon

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The South American country of Chile provides a substantial portion of loadings of fruit (not to mention for consumer consumption) beginning in the new few weeks and continuing well into the New Year.  While some Chilean fruit arrives by air early in the season, the vast majority of it is shipped by boat arriving at ports in Philadelphia; Wilmington, NC and Long Beach, CA.

Over 75 varieties of fruit are imported each year from Chile, but the five top items providing you with loading opportunities are grapes, apples, avocados, blueberries and navel oranges.  These account for about 75 percent of the volume.  Limited amounts of fruit already are arriving by air, particularly cherries.  However, volume will pick up significantly in December, but heaviest volumes with the biggest item – grapes arrving by boat — is typically during January, February, March and April.

Table Grapes

Heaviest arrivals at USA ports for grapes is expected to be at the beginning of the season – starting in late December, with a second peak in volume occuring in late March or early April.


The first “blues” will arrive by air in early December, with arrivals by boat at USA ports coming by the middle of the month.  Chilean blueberries should be available for hauls into April.  However, your best loading opportunities will during the peak volume period of about December 21st to February 22nd.


The first boat with cherries should arrive on the East Coast between December 6-10.  There were 3 million boxes of Chilean cherries imported a year ago, although imports are expected to be somewhat lower this time around.

Stone Fruit

Heaviest volume is with plums, although there are lesser amounts of nectarines and peaches.  Plums tend to have less quality problems, followed by nectarines.  Chile seems to have a lot of quality problems with peaches, and this is something to keep in mind when hauling this winter fruit.  Your chances of claims and rejections may increase. 

Other Fruit

Chilean kiwifruit and Asian pears will start arriving at USA ports in lat March, with sugar plums coming in late April.  These will be followed by persimmons, pomegranates and quinces in spring and summer.

Having opposite seasons from the USA, southern hemisphere countries such as Chile make it possible to have fruit on a year around basis.





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Berries Increasing Popularity with Consumers Highlighted in Report

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Strawberries continue to be a favorite of consumers, as well as other berries ranging from raspberries to blueberries and blackberries.  The popularity of each continues to increase.  The fruit not only is tasty, but healthy.

The agricultural lending company Rabobank sees retail berry sales continuing to incrase by seven percent annually for the next three years.


Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory group recently released a report, titled “The U.S. Fresh Berry Boom — Who Will Profit from the Growth?”

No surprising is the report notes California will continue to be the leading producer of fresh berries for strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.  Sharpest gains in recent years have been with strawberries and blueberries.

California produces 88 percent of the country’s fresh strawberries and significant portions of fresh blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Florida is also a significant producer of fresh berries.

During the fall and winter months strawberry and blueberry importes from Mexico and Chile compete directly with Florida’s season.  Chile now accounts for over 50 percent of imported blueberries.

Consumers are now purchasing more berries that been grown south from British Columbia and continuing all the way south along the coast to Chile.  This shift will continue following seasonal patterns, but also seeing increased volume in the more southern regions.

Over the past five years, California has shown tremendous growth in strawberry production the past five years.  In 2008, the state produced 114 million cartons of strawberries, which grew to 181 million cartons in 2010.  In 2011, volume actually slipped to 178 million cartons but this year,  but in 2013, the total volume should be in the 190 million carton range.

The majority of those gains come from increased yields.  California’s strawberry acreage totalled 36,519 acres in 2008, but was down to 37,732 acres this year.

It is a different story for blueberries. Worldwide statistics show total world acreage of blueberries has grown significantly over the years.  It has quadrupled in the past 15 years and now sits near 200,000 acres with most of that being in North and South America.  The Americas represent close to 80 percent of the world’s blueberry acreage and production.

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A Look at Loading Opportunities from Around the Country

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Washington and Pennsylvania apple shippers are filling the gap left by major crop losses in Michigan and New York.   However, many Eastern growers who thought they would be shipping through the end of the year, probably will not as they run out of product.    As a result, the demand for Washington apple loadings likely will increase sooner rather than later.

Apple volumes  from Pennsylavania  were  up to 20 percent more than expected,  given the severe crop shortages in New York and Michigan.

Avocado Shipments

More avocados will be crossing the border from Mexico in the USA in the months ahead for distribution by truck throughout North America.

Mexico, which is the largest supplier of Hass avocados to the USA market, prediciting record loads for the 2012-13 crop and expects to export a record volume of avocados to the USA market during the 2012-13 season.

Mexico, projected exports of Hass to the United States from July 2012 through June 2013 will total more than 918 million pounds, up from around 782 million pounds during the prior year.

The most active shipping period and biggest volumes will occur from between October-through-December (around 291 million pounds) and the January-through-March period (around 269 million pounds).

Blueberry Imports

Blueberry imports from Chile just continue to increase and should be available from various USA ports in coming weeks.  The initial berries will be arriving via air shipments through the first half of December.  But as volume picks up, most blueberries will arrive at USA port via boats.  Biggest volume arrivals should be during January and February.

Lower Rio Grande Valley (Mexican crossings of citrus, fruit, veggies, avocados, etc. – grossing about $2200 to Chicago.

Washington apples – about $6000 to New York City.



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Good Buys: Chilean Grapes, California Strawberries, Sweet Onions

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There’s some really sweet, tasty late season grapes from Chile in your produce department now.  Enjoy them while they last, because the season for these imports are just about over…..Never fear though, grapes from Mexico should start arriving in your supermarkets within the next couple of weeks.  There also will be the first domestic grapes arriving, from the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, CA.  Many retailers I’ve spoken with actually prefer the Mexican grapes over the Coachella grapes.  Keep in mind that a lot of the Mexican grapes are actually owned, or financially backed by grape growers from the U.S. — especially from California.

I’ve been a little disappointed overall with California strawberries thus far.  Some have been better than others, but overall, the quality could be better…..Of course, I have to qualify this since I shop at a small town Wal-Mart, with absolutely not competition.  Wal-Mart’s produce departments have really went down hill in the past several years.

You should be finding those wonderful sweet onions in your stores by now — especially those from Vidalia, GA.  Of course, Texas grows some pretty good sweet onions as well.

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