Fruit in Charts: Overview of potential impact of Chile’s hail damage on the U.S. market

By Agronometrics | 12 December 2018
Granizo shutterstock 189922940

With a massive hail storm hitting one of Chile’s most important fruit-producing regions, I thought I would drop a quick note to bring to life what this could spell for the U.S. market over the upcoming months.

Of the 23 commodities we make available through Agronometrics, Chile exports 19 of them to the U.S. Of all the origins, is second only to Mexico in volume, excluding banana producers. Considering a distance of more than 8,000 kilometers from Valparaiso to either Los Angeles or Philadelphia, the volumes sent by this country of only 18 million people is an impressive feat.

One of the main reasons for the close relationship these countries share is that Chile’s Central Valley is incredibly similar to California’s Central Valley, only on the other side of the world. This makes it a perfect spot for U.S. retailers to find counter-seasonal production.

Chilean Imports to the U.S. (November 2017 – October 2018)
ALL Vol Chile
(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics)
[Access this chart with your Agronometrics account using this link]

With November being the lowest volume month, Chile is right at the beginning of its export season. Over the last 12 months it shipped 799,000 metric tons (MT) to the U.S. Although in the categories we cover, Chilean fruit only makes up 5% of the total volume, in some of the commodities it represents up to 60% of all the fruit sold on the market, as shown in the table below.

Commodity Volume (KG) % of US Market
All 798,880,320 4.94%
Grapes 320,023,872 25.10%
Oranges 90,733,608 5.15%
Apples 88,102,728 2.84%
Clementines 62,066,088 49.03%
Blueberries 59,634,792 25.98%
Lemons 50,794,128 9.03%
Kiwifruit 23,999,976 28.36%
Plums 22,748,040 60.22%
Nectarines 19,958,400 28.22%
Avocados 17,917,200 1.58%
Peaches 17,599,680 9.35%
Pears 17,137,008 3.83%
Cherries 7,588,728 2.67%
Raspberries 217,728 0.20%
Strawberries 154,224 0.01%
Asparagus 86,184 0.03%
Blackberries 86,184 0.10%
Limes 31,752 0.01%

Reports are still coming in, and it will take some time for full damage assessments to be completed, but the Chilean Federation of Fruit Produces (Fedefruta) last week said that it expects damages to be in excess of US$200 million. The O’Higgins region, which was one of the worst-affected, grows just about all horticultural products and is responsible for about 40% of the country’s fruit-producing land.

Quoting Fedefruta President
Jorge Valenzuela from the referenced article: “Through the survey we carried out, we estimated that of these 30,000 hectares in the red zone, fruit losses are between 10 – 100 percent. Cherries and table grapes have received the most damage, followed by stonefruit.”

What I wanted to do with this article is to highlight the impact of Chile’s season on the U.S. market. Seeing what fruit has the largest market share gives a bit of scope for the extent of the impact that could be expected from this storm. However, it is important to keep in mind that many categories work within their production windows, and there are often very few other origins that can compensate for unexpected shocks to supply.

As the producer associations for each fruit category publish their expected production volumes, we’ll dig into some of them and try to set some initial opinions on what we might expect from the fruit of this Southern Hemispheres origin on the U.S.

Written by: Colin Fain
Original published in on November 20, 2018 (Link)

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