Chile’s fruit growers embrace technology to stand out in Chinese market

REQUINOA (Xinhua) – With new machinery used in sorting and packaging, Chilean fruit growers are better equipped to compete in the Chinese market by enforcing standardisation of products.

The technology not only automates and perfects the packaging process, but also separates fruit by colour, size, export destination and more.

The ability to use technology in the process “is indispensable,” said President of David del Curto Michael Grasty which is a leading fruit exporting company.

The company this week celebrated 65th anniversary in the industry, with the last 15 years exporting to China.

“The fruit market is nothing like what it was 65 years ago,” Grasty said.

“People who eat a Chilean apple, grape or cherry is somehow getting a sense of what we are doing in Chile,” said Grasty, underscoring the importance of quality.

The company, which currently exports grapes, peaches, kiwis, apples and cherries to China, recently relaunched the Requinoa Fruit Central, located south of the capital Santiago, which uses the latest technology to process fruit.

Technology does not just serve to expedite tasks, it also boosts quality, he said.

According to Chilean Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker, Chile aims to standardise presentation of their products, so a crate of fruit will be like a box of chocolates.

“No matter where you are, when you open it, you find the same thing. You achieve that through technology.”

Highly sensitive photoelectric cell technology, for example, can be used to precisely classify fruit.

“This kind of investment is purely good news for the country, for the government and for the fruit industry,” said Walker.

Chilean cherry and cranberry exports have been “exceptional” this year thanks to the demand from the Chinese market, suggested a report by the Chilean Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Department of International Economic Relations.

Chile’s success in China’s market did not happen overnight, said the minister, adding that it is the result of years of reputation building among consumers.

“In China, consumers prefer Chilean apples … because they have more confidence in it. It took us 50 years to achieve that and we need to maintain it,” said Walker.

Purchasing Manager of Nanjing Green Sea Fruit Co Natalia Huang confirmed Walker’s assertion, adding that “the Chinese know a lot about Chile”.

“For us, Chile is not an unfamiliar country. They have wine, salmon, fruit and copper which are known in China,” said Huang.

Nanjing Green Sea Fruit Co. has been importing fruit from Chile for the past three years, said Huang, adding that its partner, David del Curto, invests in technology and agricultural innovations “to stay competitive in the Chinese market, which changes rapidly.”

Grasty and Walker both see tremendous potential in the future of trade with China. Chile’s sales to China “are just beginning,” they said.