Chilean fruit exporters assess hailstorm damage

Chilean fruit exporters assess hailstorm damage

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The Chilean fruit industry is assessing the damage to stone fruit, cherries, blueberries, kiwifruit and grapes after a Nov. 12 hailstorm.

According to ASOEX, the Chilean Fresh Fruit Exporters Association, exporters are in the fields to assess the damage of heavy rain and hail, which affected numerous production areas.

“While it is still too early to understand the full impact of the storm, information on specific commodities has started to emerge,” according to a news release from Ronald Bown, chairman of the board of the fruit association.

The group’s Cherry Committee reported many production regions, which consists of about 75,000 acres spread from the Valparasio Region to Aysen, were unaffected. The committee postponed an updated cherry forecast that was scheduled for Nov. 15, and rescheduled it for the week of Nov. 19. Preliminary estimates are that just 5% of the cherry volume is affected, according to the release.

Grapes in O’Higgins region sustained damage to the fruit and flowers, according to the ASOEX Table Grape Committee.

“The affected area is very specific, so our job is to further assess future impact, not just on the volume from that area, but also on quality of the fruit,” grape committee president Fernando Sat said in the release.

Craig Padover, account and category manager at Jac Vandenberg Inc., one of the largest grape importers in the U.S., said the company has talked to its contacts in Chile about the early grapes from the north and the fruit production in general throughout Chile.

“No matter what anyone says right now, 10% or whatever, impactful or not impactful, with any weather event, you never fully understand the effects it may or may not have. It could be a relatively minor event for us or be more impactful than anyone can actually know,” Padover said Nov. 15.

Carlos Cruzat, chairman of the Chilean Kiwifruit Committee, said that kiwifruit orchards in the O’Higgins and Southern Maule regions were hit by hail, and need to be further assessed for damage estimates, according to the release.

The Blueberry Committee on Nov. 15 released a production report that said the effect on exported berries from the O’Higgins region will be “comparatively low.” In other areas, however, exports could be cut by 4,200 tons.

Overall, the committee expects 100,800 tons of fresh berries to be exported for the season, down from an earlier estimate of 105,000. Immediate effects on exports will occur through the end of the month.

“The fresh fruit industry has made a strong investment in infrastructure, such as roofs for crops like cherries, to protect itself from storms,” Bown said in the release. “In reality, these types of natural phenomena will always have some impact and our producers will invest further to ensure the fruit being shipped to our global markets meets the expected quality standards.”

Northeast Editor Amy Sowder contributed to this article.