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Chile’s largest fruit exporter to be showcased at London Produce Show

Looking for new opportunities, particularly for key product range
Chile’s largest fruit exporter to be showcased at London Produce Show

New innovations in table grapes and stonefruit from one of Chile’s largest fruit exporters, Gesex, will be showcased at a major new event for the fresh produce sector, due to be staged in London next month.

The company will be appearing at the forthcoming London Produce Show, which will take place in the UK capital from 4-6 June, together with its European subsidiary Fruit Growers Alliance (FGA) and US fruit breeder Sun World International LLC (Sun World).

As well as improving contacts with existing customers and consolidating its position in the country, Gesex’s Felipe Casanova said the exporter would be looking for new opportunities in the UK, particularly for its key product range.

“We’re aiming to keep learning about the UK market, while also showcasing some of the new varietal innovations that we have achieved in all of our products, including table grapes, cherries and other stonefruit,” he said.

Table grapes represent the biggest single export product for Gesex in the UK, with the grower exporting approximately 4,500 tonnes of red and green grapes to the market through FGA every year.

Growth outlook
Already a hugely important market for the company – representing 15% of total export volumes and 20% of total turnover – Casanova believes further growth for Chilean fruits exports can still be achieved in the UK despite the mature nature of the market.

“Although we are talking about a mature market, supermarkets are trying to reduce the number of suppliers and increase the volume with the existing ones,” he said.

“We are confident we will keep growing with both red and green seedless grapes and we see the UK market as one of our targets specifically for red seedless.”

As a grower, some 85% of the total volume of fruit exported by Gesex is sourced from its own production, meaning that the company can help facilitate direct contact between European grocery retailers and Chilean growers.

“In contrast with traditional exporters, our growers have full visibility as regards the customers we are serving and the results they receive – this acts as motivation for our growers to keep improving quality as they will be rewarded as a result,” he explained.

However, innovation is vital to the continued growth of the business and Casanova said that the company was constantly looking for new varieties of table grape and stonefruit that could cover gaps in supply.

Fruit partners
Like Gesex, Sun World will also be present at the London Produce Show and the company’s Executive Vice President David Marguleas said its appearance would serve to both highlight the work being done by the US breeder and the varieties that it has licensed to growers across the globe.

“Sun World’s objective in participating in the show, and in making the opportunity available to our licensees, is to create increased visibility for Sun World’s proprietary varieties and brands as well as for Gesex and our other 52 marketer licensees worldwide,” he said.

FGA, which was established by Gesex and fellow Chilean exporter San Clemente in 2008, with offices in Ridderkerk in the Netherlands and Chatteris in Cambridgeshire, UK, will also be on hand to highlight its role in bringing Chilean growers closer to European consumers.

According to FGA’s Paul Nicholls, the joint venture expects to import some 400,000 cartons of fruit to the UK this season, as well as a further 600,000 cartons to the European mainland from Chile and other sources.

The company, which counts the largest grocery retailers in the UK, Germany, Scandinavia and Spain among its client roster, is focusing on developing its direct line of communication with European retailers and shoppers through what Nicholls described as the “least cost direct sourcing model”.

“By delivering direct to market combined with a marketing strategy that is focused on the needs of European consumers, I believe we can expect to see further growth for Chilean products in Europe in the near future,” Nicholls added.

For more information:
Steven Maxwell
Fresh Position
Tel: +44 7796 948491
Email: [email protected]


Publication date: 5/27/2014

USDA: Level of Dioxin in Chile’s Chicken Recall Would Not Have Sparked Recall in U.S.

Nearly 200,000 pounds of Chilean chicken is being recalled in the United States for dioxins only because the levels found violate Chile’s domestic limits, according to federal food safety officials.

In other words, the 126,000 pounds of chicken currently being held at the border is there only because Chile recalled it, not because the U.S. Department of Agriculture thinks it’s a public health risk. In fact, when the same dioxin levels are found in U.S. product, it does not spark a domestic recall, according to Dan Engeljohn, Assistant Administrator of the Office of Field Operations at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

“Although we would likely not have recalled this same product for that level, we made the determination, based on their decision to recall the product, that it is adulterated,” Engeljohn told Food Safety News.

When FSIS issued a press release over the weekend informing the public about the Chilean recall, the agency did not say at what level dioxins had been found in Chile, only stating that the agency had “determined that the risk to consumers is negligible.” The agency also said it is tracking down some 62,000 pounds of the product that did enter the U.S.

Dr. David Goldman, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Public Health Science at FSIS, told Food Safety News on Tuesday that Chilean health authorities found 5.1 picograms per kilogram (pg/kg) in their tests, which he said is only “slightly above” Chile’s maximum residue limit (MRL) of 3.5 pg/kg.

The U.S. doesn’t have an MRL for dioxins in meat and poultry products. Instead, FSIS has developed what the agency calls “trigger values.” For chicken, that level is 4 pg/kg, which means that anything found above that would trigger an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA would collect environmental and feed samples for analysis, but there would not be a recall, according to Engeljohn. Instead, health officials would try and pinpoint where the exposure was coming from — be it contaminated feed or a coating on part of the building — and reduce or eliminate it.

Every five years FSIS conducts a survey to estimate the levels of dioxins and other toxic pollutants, like PCBs, in meat and poultry products. Since the mid-1990s when the testing began, the levels found have dropped 20 to 80 percent for turkey, chicken and pork, but have stayed relatively even for beef, according to the 2008 dioxin report. The drop is likely due to tighter controls on dioxin pollution, including restrictions on herbicides containing dioxins and a ban on using clay as a binder for certain feeds (the clay was sometimes contaminated with dioxins).

The government is in the middle of collecting data for its 2013 report on dioxins. While the project is still in progress, Dr. Goldman said the preliminary results continue that trend.

Asked to respond to the questions raised by Food & Water Watch on Monday, FSIS officials told Food Safety News there was no lag time between the dioxin recall in Chile. Officials were alerted to a potential problem based on preliminary test results on July 17, but did not receive confirmation about the test results or notice about the recall until the day before issuing a notification on Saturday. (The lag time on Chile’s end was likely due to the fact that its test results were confirmed by a lab in the Netherlands, according to FSIS.)

The agency also defended not issuing a public health alert or formal recall, saying experts at FSIS have determined there is no significant public health risk based on the levels Chile is reporting.

Since there are no MRLs set for dioxins, FSIS determines what will put consumers at risk on a case by case basis.

Food Safety News