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Chileans stand by Chinese partners during coronavirus outbreak

© Alexandra Sautois


Chilean Fruit Exports Association (Asoex) has offered support to China by offering to donate fresh fruits to the medical staff working to treat people affected by coronavirus. Containers filled with fresh Chilean produce sent to different ports across China had been held back due to the outbreak. With Chinese consumers turning to online markets to buy fresh produce, overall consumption has reduced. Shipping companies have been working to keep the containers in the market so as to increase availability of refrigerated storage.

In a statement issued by the organisation, Asoex president, Ronald Bown Fernandez, said: “It is complex, it requires constant monitoring as to how it evolves. We are relying on Chinese authorities to contain the virus, with the aim of returning to normalcy in the shortest period of time possible.” It’s unknown how long the current situation in China will last, with Asoex announcing it will work with the government to minimise the negative effectives by implementing a “specific campaign to promote the healthy attributes of fruit consumption”.

Around 265,000 tons of Chilean produce have been exported so far this season, with the main products being cherries, blueberries, table grapes, avocados, nectarines, plums, apples, and kiwifruit. This figure is up 27.7% from the same period last year.

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Chilean fruit exports to China decimated

Even though fruit is a significant snack globally, and even vegetables are popular in the Asia-Pacific region (57%), cheese is the most eaten snack in Europe (58%), bread/sandwiches in the Middle East (47%), ice cream in Latin America (63%) and potato/tortilla crisps in the US (63%).


Chile’s fruit exporters association (ASOEX) has estimated the losses to the country’s exports to China at close to US$100 million. This news was announced at the second meeting of the public-private table where the effects of the coronavirus on Chilean exports to China were analysed. The meeting included chaired the Minister of Foreign Relations, Rodrigo Yañez and the President of the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile AG (ASOEX), Ronald Bown Fernández.

“After the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations, there were expectations of a revival in trade. However, on Monday, February 10, only 68 containers of cherries were sold. While in total, during the first 48 hours of operations in the wholesale markets in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing and others, only 249 containers of the existing fruit stock in the chain were sold, estimated at 1,500 containers of cherries,” said the President of ASOEX. He added: “The first sales prices have been lower than expected, also in relation to the values ​​reached before the Chinese New Year. We believe that if the current trend were maintained, lower revenues could be projected for the cherry export sector of between US$70 and 80 million. But if we add other fruit species to this, we could reach losses of about US$100 million. However, this could vary depending on how the situation develops. So, we are constantly evaluating the market and conversing with our representatives in China.”

There is also concern about the fruit in transit to China, estimated at 1,600 containers, whose expected arrival dates are between now and March 15. These shipments contain about 59 containers of blueberries, 173 containers of cherries, 872 containers of plums, 387 containers of nectarines, 30 containers of avocados and 134 containers of table grapes. 

The Chilean fruit export industry has adapted its export promotion strategy in China, which includes facilitating the consumption of the basket of fruits exported by Chile, including cherries, blueberries, peas and table grapes, to highlight their nutritional benefits. The consumption of fruits will be promoted via online media and in retail chains and the sector will continue to donate fresh fruit to clinics and health centres. The first delivery will consist of 1,000 1.5 kg boxes of blueberries, donated to the lung hospital of Shanghai.

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Chilean cherries played a prominent part in the recent Chinese New Year celebrations, as red is the traditional colour of the festival and the peak sales period for Chilean cherries in China. The Cherry Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) teamed up with food delivery service to hold the Harvest Your Red Moment and Deliver Happiness Together 2020 Chilean Cherry x Spring Shopping Festival Launch Ceremony. 

To satisfy the high consumer demand for Chilean cherries, has added Cherries from Chile to the “100-Million Yuan Subsidy” programme within its 2020 Spring Shopping Festival. The programme works together with sellers on the platform to subsidise sales of Chilean cherries. The platform guarantees fast delivery of the fresh fruit.

Charif Christian Carvajal, ASOEX’s Europe and Asia marketing director, said, “We hope that through our cooperation with, more consumers in China will be able to enjoy fresh, high-quality Cherries from Chile as part of their New Year celebrations and even onwards towards mid-February.”

Juan José Vidal Wood, Trade Commissioner at the Shanghai office of ProChile, said, “China is the primary market for exports of Cherries from Chile and cherries are an important component in the two countries’ flourishing economic relationship. Cooperation with will have a positive impact on the consumption and promotion of Chilean cherries in China.”

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Chile puts people at the heart of sustainability policy

Chile puts people at the heart of sustainability policy, Ronald Bown, president of ASOEX
Ronald Bown, president of ASOEX


“Sustainability has to be based on a long-term vision and the commitment has to be institutional, which is why our association has defined it as a policy,” said Ronald Bown, president of ASOEX. “This means strengthening at all levels, internally and externally, everything that has to do with food safety and security, but always putting people at the centre, especially consumers and workers.” The concept of sustainability that guides the actions of the Chilean agricultural sector is a commitment to society, the environment and the economic viability of businesses, with special emphasis on the people involved in the process to ensure that workers perform their functions without harming others and consumers benefit from a product that is reliable and has complied with internal regulations, especially those relating to the workplace. “For us, social sustainability has three key sides: the consumer (linked to safety), workers, and the community,” said Bown.

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ASOEX and FDF present programme for Chile’s fruit exports from the central-southern region


In Chile, a ‘Strategic Programme for the Export of Fruit Production’ has been announced for the South Central Zone. The project, coordinated by the Foundation for Fruit Development (FDF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile (ASOEX), and sin addition to the blueberry and kiwis committees, as well as university research departments, seeks to support the development and competitiveness of the fruit producing and exporting sector by offering tools to deal with climate change and the requirements of international markets. Chile is currently the leading fruit supplier in the Southern Hemisphere and fifth worldwide, as well as the world’s top exporter of table grapes, blueberries, plums and cherries.

The programme involves nine projects and three fruit species: blueberries, raspberries and kiwis. Four of these initiatives are aimed at blueberry, evaluating the field and post-harvest behaviour of two varieties in different productive zones under various cover systems, with positive initial results. Another project will seek a harvest forecast system for crop prediction analysis.

In raspberries, the focus is on obtaining new varieties resistant to diseases, and other conditions, through the Genetic Improvement Program (PMG) of the raspberry carried out by the Fruit Technology Consortium.

In the case of the kiwi, work is being conducted on genetics, especially to obtain Psa resistant varieties. This should provide information that will allow producers to be able to better decisions at the field level. In addition, a project is under development to create a preventive system to calculate harvest volumes of kiwis.

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Meeting of ODEPA and ASOEX focuses on exports of Chilean fruits to the Far East

odepa y asoex

In a meeting between Chile’s main agricultural bodies, representatives of ASOEX pushed for the speeding up of the process of Chilean pears entering China and its avocados entering South Korea. The meeting also discussed the progress of exports of Chilean avocados and blueberries to the Indian market, an agreement that was signed in April 2017 by the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture of India, Ashwani Kumar

Another issue of concern expressed by fruit exporters was the lack of access for Chilean fruits to the Port of Jakarta in Indonesia, a situation that has persisted for about six years, damaging the competitiveness of Chilean fruits, which are forced to enter through the ports of Surabaya and Belawan, over 1,000 km from the main centres of fruit commercialisation. Another subject analysed during the meeting regarded accelerating negotiations to increase the supply of fruits to Vietnam, since only table grapes are currently authorised.

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China’s nectarine market opening to Chile

Ronald Bown, president of the association representing Chile’s fruit exporters, Asoex, said Chile has the potential to eventually export in the region of a million boxes to China.

Chile will be able to export its nectarines to China as of next month, Chile’s agriculture minister Carlos Furche has announced.

After three years of negotiations and various meetings of officials from both countries, the relevant protocol is expected to be signed in November during a visit by the president of China to Chile.

In a press release, Furche, who is attending ChileWeek events in Miami, said Chile’s global nectarine exports already total about US $50 million a year.

He said the Chinese deal means Chile’s nectarine producers and exporters will have access to a market undergoing strong growth and provides opportunities to diversify their shipments.

It is also important amid what is a very competitive global market with the entry of new nectarine suppliers from countries in the European Union and in the Southern Hemisphere, Furche said.

Ronald Bown, president of the association representing Chile’s fruit exporters, Asoex, said Chile has the potential to eventually export in the region of a million boxes to China.

He said the export deal will benefit more than 500 producers and in turn help improve conditions for labourers.

“AQSIQ Vice Minister Mr. Wu Qinghai met with Minister of Agriculture of Chile Mr. Carlos Furche in Beijing on September 2, 2016. The two sides conducted in-depth discussions on the inspection and quarantine access of agricultual products and food mutually provided and reached several consensuses. After the meeting the two sides signed cooperation documents.
Chilean Ambassador to China, Director of Chilean Agricultural and Livestock Service, Directors from Chilean associations in fruits, pork and meat, and officials from CNCA, Department of Supervision on Animal and Plant Quarantine and Department of International Cooperation of AQSIQ attended the meeting.”

source: AQSIQ

Source of image at top: Chilean ministry of agriculture