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Chile's Unifruitti aims to triple cherry exports

Unifrutti, Chile’s second biggest fruit exporter, is looking to triple the number of exported cherries over the next three years, according a report by The Santiago Times carried on NZTE's website.

The company will also increase the variety of fruit on offer by increasing its production capacity and modernising production centres.

Increased labour and energy costs have negatively impacted the fruit industry recently, but Unifrutti still grew in 2010.

The company reported sales of around US$140 million, exporting 132,071 tons of fruit, slightly higher than the 127,000 tons exported in 2009.

According to general manager Juan José Villasante, Unifrutti will invest US$12 million to boost production capacity and modernize four of its eight production centers in Teno, Linderos, Requínoa and Copiapó.

The company currently owns 14,800 acres of land for fruit production.

Germán Illanes, commercial director of Unifrutti was quoted saying the company has been reinventing itself to stay successful. “One of the solutions is to produce more, and another is to be more productive in the harvesting process, so we’re changing our machines and investing in some new installations.”

Chile’s cherry exports have been growing rapidly in recent years, due, in part, to the strong demand from Asian countries.

Unifrutti aims to triple its cherry exports from 600,000 boxes to 1.8 million.

The company is also experimenting with different varieties of cherries, seeking fruit that will fare better in transit, and cherries that have different colours and flavours.

Source: El Mercurio, The Santiago Times