Chilean exporters rise to new standards after fruit fly detection
January 31, 2013

Chilean exporters may not feel the full blow yet but the recent detection of fruit flies in the Valparaiso port could have greater implications down the road, Verfrut commercial manager Ignacio Donoso warned.

“In my opinion, fruit fly detection in the Valparaíso port is going to mean extra complications for an already complicated season – with delays and drops in stonefruit, drops in grape production up north and extra costs for post-rain chemicals,” Donoso explained.

“The fly incident is going to mean an extra cost for Chilean exporters and producers from the central zone. Fruit to the U.S.A. must be sent in a microperforated bag or be sent from a port up north or down south.”

So far, Exser commercial manager for the U.S. and Europe, Cristian Ureta, said the table grape exporter had not yet been impacted due to a late season.

“The season is behind, so at the moment we’re making the bags. In that sense we haven’t had problems (with delays),” Ureta said.

“Operations are normal. Because at the moment, little is being loaded and there was stock from previous bags. Meanwhile, we haven’t started the heavy part of the season, so we haven’t had problems for the moment.”

He said that the special bags did, however, cost twice that of the standard bags used. He expected to have to use them until the end of the season in April.

For blueberry exporter Alpine Fresh, the saving grace has been packing in Santiago, General Manager Gian Paolo Bassi explained.

“We haven’t (had an impact.) The topic of Valparaíso doesn’t affect us directly because in the case of blueberries, everything is loaded in Santiago. They go directly to the port, so it doesn’t matter what happens.”

“Maritime shipments leave in a closed, sealed container. So it can pass by fruit flies and it doesn’t matter because it’s not affected. What affects us are the processing plants and the fields in the outskirts.”

The Chilean Fruit Exporters Association assured the public this week that United States Department of Agriculture standards were being met and that special packaging requirement would be in place until the end of the season.