“2020 was a year of great challenges, but the fruit industry was able to respond and adapt to them”

The president of the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile AG (ASOEX), Ronald Bown Fernandez, took stock of the sector’s work in 2020, a year marked, mainly, by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Each export season is different and presents challenges and opportunities for the Chilean fruit sector. However, the last two seasons (2019-2020 and 2020-2021) have probably been the most complex ones, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the pandemic began in international markets in 2019, ASOEX, our Safety Committee, and the Foundation for Fruit Development (FDF) focused on producing and updating prevention material against the disease. Our goal was to take care of our workers’ health while ensuring greater safety in each of our processes to safeguard our consumers’ safety,” Ronald Bown stated.

Ronald Bown Fernandez

Bown Fernandez also highlighted the work carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural and Livestock Service. “These entities, and the fact that the agricultural sector’s activity was declared essential, allowed us to carry out the harvesting, packaging, and shipping activities without interruptions.”

Opportunities and challenges of the current export season
“It’s important to highlight that the industry has prepared very well to meet the requirements of international markets in the 2020-2021 fresh fruit export season. However, we have been facing various challenges. One of them is that we don’t have enough staff in the orchards and processing plants, particularly for table grapes in the north. There’s also a lack of labor in the ongoing cherry and blueberry harvest. This could get worse once the harvest of the stone fruit and table grapes from the central area starts,” the union leader stated.

Despite this, Ronald Bown was optimistic about the development of the country’s current fresh fruit export season, estimating that exports would be very similar to those of last season.

“I want to emphasize that there will also be opportunities to celebrate in this season, such as the entry of Chilean Hass avocados to South Korea and Australia. As well as the opening of Vietnam for cherries. In addition, the recent approval by the United States of the Systems Approach for Chilean blueberries from Ñuble and Biobío, will allow us to export this fruit without fumigation treatment and it will undoubtedly lead to an increase in organic blueberry exports,” he stated.

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