Exports to China: avoiding food waste with new markets

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The Asian giant is an important trade ally for the Southern Cone. For Chile, it represents 37.2% of exports. However, the logistics crisis has led Chilean fruit exporters to prefer other markets, such as the United States, to avoid food waste caused by long port delays.

This has allowed Peru, another major fruit producer, and exporter in the region, to gain traction in the Asian market.

For a better understanding of this issue, let’s review the background

The Chilean Agricultural, livestock, and forestry sector found a great partner in China. It became the main destination for its exports from 2018 to 2021, a year that recorded a 16.5% growth over the first half quarter, compared to the same period of the previous year.

Nevertheless, the pandemic caused more restrictive entry protocols to the Asian country, leading to a rise in ocean freight and complicating logistic flows in ports, affecting fruit quality due to waiting times, which can be up to 20 days.

The maritime transport logistics crisis

In addition to the increased time associated with the port entry, exporters have faced other challenges:

  • Ship bottlenecks at major unloading ports, with a 30-40% rise from March 2022.
  • Transport of empty or half-loaded containers on ships.
  • Search for alternative discharge ports.
  • Longer container unloading time.
  • Increased costs.
  • Decrease in the fruit’s shelf life, resulting in higher food waste due to long waits.

While this has been a pain in the neck for Chilean exporters targeting China, diverting goods to the U.S. has also collapsed some ports, such as Los Angeles, extending waiting times at both destinations.

What has been the farmers’ reaction?

In response to this scenario, many of the country’s fruit exporters decided to focus on the United States, an expeditious market for importing their merchandise.

In the 2021-2021 season, Chile exported 32,969 tons of fruits and vegetables to the United States. At the same time, there was a 4.75% decrease in fresh fruit shipments to the Far East.

Peru did not miss the opportunity to fill the gap left by Chilean suppliers in the Asian market, boosting its exports of fruits, vegetables, and grains by 43% year-on-year 2021.

Alternatives to fighting fruit spoilage and food waste

Chile shipped 1 million 608 thousand tons of fresh fruit from January to May 2022. To ensure that these products reach their destination markets in good condition, not only is it necessary to shorten distribution times but also to delay dehydration and extend their shelf life.

Traditionally, this was done with petroleum-based coatings. However, given the demands of today’s consumers, who prefer organic and sustainable foods, replacing them with natural alternatives is essential.

One is Shel-Life®PolyNatural’s 100% natural fruit and vegetable coating.

Made from vegetable lipids and polymers, Shel-Life® preserves the quality of fruits and vegetables naturally, eliminating petroleum derivatives from the process.

Through PolyNatural’s solution, exporters can extend the natural lifespan of fruits and vegetables, making it viable to deal with longer transport times, avoid fruit waste, and maintain their foothold in major markets like China.