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Trucker strike impacts Colombia’s reliability overseas, says fruit exporter

At the time of writing on Friday, a trucker strike in Colombia had been going on for 39 days straight. While some growers closer to the coast had been left relatively unscathed, others had been forced to leave entire crops on trees as long as possible. At we catch up with Productora Agrícola del Caribe manager German Pardo, who grows pineapples, papayas, avocados and mangoes over an area of 450 hectares.

Pardo says while 60% of the company’s production was near the Caribbean coast, 40% comes from the country’s interior, specifically from the departments of El Cesar and Santander.

In these areas, the national truck driver strike has halted not only harvests, but exports too.

“Yes, it has affected us a lot. Initially we had some problems with the transport of the fruit to the ports, but now the biggest worry is that we have had to suspend harvests to avoid fruit being damaged or decomposing en route, and that losses could be very large with trucks stopped on the roads,” he says.

In the first two weeks alone the company lost 160 metric tons (MT) of fruit, and it was three weeks ago that Productora Agrícola del Caribe decided to stop harvests in the interior.

If the problem persists, fruit will be lost in the fields as well. Agricola Productora del Caribe - pineapples

“The fruit continues the ripening process and eventually it also decomposes and is lost. We only have cold storage facilities for pineapples, so we haven’t been able to resolve the problem with avocados and papayas,” Pardo says.

He says the fruit still has to be picked eventually, and if they can’t be traded they will be disinfected and used as organic compost.

“This situation affects Colombia’s reliability in overseas markets,” he says.

Pardo says the company has customers in Switzerland, Belgium, Austria and Germany, and the current situation has led to an inability to fully comply with commitments.

“Evidently we are failing, and they have to explain to the supermarkets what’s happening. This affects the whole chain and our image of reliability, both for companies and the country. We hope this is overcome soon.

“We agree with the truck drivers’ right to complain, but we do not agree when their fight for themselves damages many people, and so the right they are claiming goes against our right to subsist and fulfill our business.”

Pardo says pineapples and avocados have been the most affected crops for his business, and because of a halt in exports of these fruits the company has stopped its previous pace of 80MT of pineapples per week and 30MT of avocados.

Mexico becoming first raspberry and blackberry exporter to China

Mexico becoming first raspberry and blackberry exporter to China

SVA Fruits is a joint venture between the Chilean fruit producer San Clemente and Hortifrut. “The company in Shanghai started about 7 years ago with San Clemente, which was one of the first Chilean companies to focus on China as a primary market, and was actually Chile’s largest exporter to Shanghai for many years,” affirms David Smith, Operations Manager at SVA Fruits.

Currently, San Clemente is the fourth largest apple producer in Chile, with around 2.7 million boxes; they also grow cherries, grapes, kiwis, clementines and some other products. “The other parent company, Hortifrut, is the world’s largest blueberry grower, with around 23% of Chile’s entire production, as well as farms in countries like Argentina, Peru, Mexico and Spain. It also owns 30% of Naturipe in the U.S., which means that Hortifrut is their primary representative in China,” explains David.

The big news is that a protocol has been signed between the Mexican and Chinese governments allowing the export of Mexican raspberries and blackberries to China, as no other country has access. David believes that “it is an exciting opportunity that nobody knows how big is going to be, but if we manage to get the right product into their hands, they are going to go crazy for it.”

Blackberries and raspberries have not been grown in China for long, and neither volumes nor quality are very high. According to David, “growing practices are not very developed, so they have a long way to go before catching up with the Western world, but because it’s a new product, consumers are really curious about it.”
David finds the situation comparable to that of blueberries, which only started to take off about 3 to 4 years ago. “I have seen some presentations about blueberry production in China which reveal that, in terms of acreage, they are now the world’s second largest grower, which shows there’s a lot of belief in that product.”

In China, 20% of SVA Fruits’ business goes directly to big name retailers, while the rest goes to wholesalers, which means it already has a wide network of customers. “Conversations about raspberries are still short, but now with the protocol, and only 1-2 months before shipments start, we are definitely ready to go,” concludes David.

Publication date: 11/28/2014
Author: Nichola Watson

Taiwan third largest exporter of stonefurit to US in 2013

Taiwan third largest exporter of stonefruit to US in 2013

Taiwan was the third largest export market for U.S. peaches and nectarines in 2013, as well as the third largest export market for U.S. cherries.  Stonefruits are appreciated by Taiwan consumers, but also by Taiwan wholesalers and retailers, who prefer them because of their profitability.

In 2013, Taiwan imported a total of 21,553 metric tons (MT) of peaches/nectarines, valued at approximately US$ 48 million.  Out of that total, the United States continued to dominate the Taiwan peach/nectarine import market, accounting for 76% of Taiwan’s total fresh peach/nectarine imports.  Taiwan’s imports of U.S. peaches/nectarines increased 16% by volume, while total imports also increased 16% during the 2013 season.  Currently, the United States supplies 33% of Taiwan’s total consumption.  The principal competition for U.S. peaches/nectarines is from local production with an estimated 27,156 tons harvested in 2013.   

Taiwan does not produce cherries, so 100% of local demand must be met by imports. Taiwan’s imports of U.S. cherries decreased by 55% in 2013; although the United States remained the fruit’s largest in 2013, with 4,401 MT or nearly US$ 34 million.  However, the entry of major southern hemisphere suppliers (e.g., Australia, Chile, and New Zealand) has shifted some market share away from U.S. suppliers in recent years.

In 2013, Taiwan peach/nectarine production totalled 27,156 MT, a nearly 7% decrease below the 2012 output, due in part to excessive rain in April and the powerful Typhoon Soulik, which hit central Taiwan in July.  The majority of peaches/nectarines are grown in the northern and central part of Taiwan.  In 2013, the area planted declined to 2,314 hectares, a 59 hectare decrease from the previous year.

Last year, Taiwan imported a total of 21,553 MT, or US$ 48 million, worth of peaches and nectarines, which represents a 16% increase in volume and 18% in value compared to the previous year.  The United States had the largest market share (76%), followed by Chile (22%), Australia (1.20%), Japan (1.08%), and New Zealand (0.03%).

As for cherries, Taiwan’s total imports dropped significantly, by nearly 45% in volume and 24% in value, reaching a total of 8,284 MT or US$ 67 million.  The United States remained the leading supplier with 53% of the market, followed by Chile (23%), Canada (10%), Australia (8%), and New Zealand (6%).

Publication date: 8/15/2014