The area cultivated for fruit has increased from 221,000 to 265,000 hectares over the 2004 to 2009 period, representing an increase of almost 20%
Widely known because of its quality, Chilean fresh fruit enjoys strong demand from the world’s most discriminating consumers. Being the world’s largest shipper of grapes, plums, apples, blueberries, nectarines and peaches, Chile accounts for nearly 60 percent of Southern Hemisphere exports. Growing demand for health foods has been key to worldwide expansion of Chilean fresh fruit exports.
The Chilean agri-food industry has four major subsectors, including dried, canned, frozen, and juice concentrate, with processing plants throughout the country.
Most dried product plants are from Coquimbo to Los Lagos regions, specially in Metropolitan Santiago, Valparaíso, and O’Higgins regions. Canneries extend from Arica and Parinacota on the north to Araucanía in the south with most clustered in Maule, Metropolitan Santiago,and Valparaíso regions. Most frozen product plants stand from Valparaíso to Los Lagos, notably in Maule, Metropolitan Santiago, and O’Higgins regions. Juice concentrate plants stand from Coquimbo to Los Lagos especially in Maule and Metropolitan Santiago.
This is a major industry. In Chile, 52 percent of farm produce is destined to the agri-food industry, which in turn ships 86 percent of its output to markets abroad.
Processed food exports have grown 234 percent in the past decade are were worth US$1.4 billion FOB in 2012 alone.
Concerning the production of nuts, Chilean nuts industry has undergone radical changes in the past 15 years. Substantial increases in walnut, almond and hazelnut output have turned Chile into the Southern Hemisphere’s largest producer of some nuts and the world’s largest of others. It is not only because of volume, but Chilean leadership rests mostly on recognized product quality. Reverse season have also played a big role in sustained increase of exports.
The leading products are shelled and unshelled walnuts, shelled and unshelled almonds, shelled and unshelled hazelnuts, chestnuts. From 2009 to 2012 Chilean nut exports grew from US$130 million to US$273 million. Accounting for over two thirds of nut exports, walnuts alone rose from US$80 million to US$195 million.