Opinion

Chilean Table Grapes Poised for Export Growth in 2023/24 Season

Published May 17, 2024
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Known for producing high-quality table grapes, Chile's grape industry has been successful internationally through advantageous trade agreements, stringent regulatory requirements, and proactive market strategies. Chile's network of FTA has granted privileged access to key markets such as the US, the EU, and China, allowing Chilean producers to compete on an equal basis with domestic producers. Chilean table grape exports are expected to reach 62 million boxes in 2023/24, with the majority going to North America due to increased demand in the US. Chile plans to develop a phytosanitary inspection facility for table grapes to avoid fumigation before shipping to the US. Despite a drop in 2023, export volume will likely recover this year, with fresh grapes leading the way.

Chile's grape sector has long been a staple of the country's agricultural exports, with a reputation for producing high-quality table grapes sought worldwide. Chilean grapes have achieved international success through favorable trade agreements, high regulatory requirements, proactive market tactics, and reliable production and trade data, demonstrating the industry's robustness and adaptability. In the 2023/24 season, Chilean table grape exports are projected to reach 62 million 8.2-kilogram (kg) boxes, slightly up from the previous season's 60.5 million 8.2 kg boxes, according to Tridge weekly update.

Trade agreements have fostered the expansion of Chilean grape exports. Chile's network of free trade agreements (FTAs) has provided privileged access to key markets such as the United States (US), the European Union (EU), and China. By cutting tariffs and creating new opportunities, these FTAs have ensured that Chilean producers can compete on an equal footing with local producers in these regions.

Chile is also aiming to establish a phytosanitary inspection facility for table grapes to exclude fumigation before they are shipped to the US. This will maintain fruit quality, reduce costs, and increase the market value of Chilean grapes. This move supports environmental sustainability and strengthens trade relations, ensuring that Chilean grapes meet stringent US import standards while appealing to consumers seeking safer, higher-quality produce. The project will take place in the Unifrutti factory in Copiapó, in the Atacama region. The site will allow for compliance with the inspection methodology at the point of origin rather than product application. The facility will be supported by the Chilean and Atacama regional governments through the Support Program for Strategic Impact Initiatives (IFI). Table grapes, which comprise 99% of Atacama's fresh fruit exports this season, are the region's main agricultural export. The site will offer the necessary tools to obtain the required authorizations for the new installation.

Figure 1: Chile Fresh Grape Export Volume 2019-2023

Chile Exports of Fresh Grapes

Source: Tridge

Since 2019, the volume of Chilean fresh grapes has declined 23.23%, from 656,465 metric tons (mt) to 503,937 mt in 2023. Over the previous five years, Chile's exports have declined due to a massive uprooting of low-yielding grape areas and adverse weather effects in terms of high temperatures and drought. At the same time, competition from Peru grew stronger, gaining momentum in the US, EU, and China and limiting Chile's fresh grape sales.

The US remains the primary export market, followed by China and the Netherlands. Despite the decline in 2023, export volume is expected to bounce back this year. Chile shipped 1.01 million metric tons (mmt) of fresh fruit in Q1-24, with fresh grapes leading the way. Chilean table grape exports are predicted to reach 62 million boxes (8.2 kg/box) in 2023/24, a 2.48% year-on-year (YoY) increase compared to the previous season, with a large share going to North America due to increased demand in the US. As of W15 of 2024, Chilean table grape exports have reached 55.72 million boxes.

Despite these challenges, the Chilean grape sector has demonstrated remarkable resilience. Climate change, water scarcity, and changing trade rules are significant hurdles. Still, the industry has shown its ability to adapt and innovate. 2024 is expected to bring better results for Chilean grape traders. Tridge anticipates a rebound in export volume and value of fresh grapes in 2024, driven by increased production and improved quality. Investment in phytosanitary measures may boost demand from the US, marking a positive comeback after half a decade of decline.

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