With Chilean table grape season starting in November, importers from across the U.S. are requesting authorities accelerate the authorization of a systems approach that would allow the entry of Chilean grapes without fumigation, according to a news release.
After 20 years of work between Chile’s Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG) and the USDA, the systems approach has been authorized by the technical organizations of both the U.S. and Chile, the release said. It is now awaiting publication in the Federal Register by the USDA.
Twenty importers have sent letters to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting that the USDA urgently publish the systems approach for Chilean table grapes, the release said.
The list of importers includes such importers as Bengard, Giumarra, Summit Produce, Dayka & Hackett, Kopke, Sbrocco International, Capespan, Forever Fresh, Grapeman, J&K Fresh, Oppy, Jac Vandenberg Inc., Pacific Trellis, Sun Fresh International, Pandol Bros. Inc., Sierra Produce, Tastyfrutti International, and Grapeco Farms, according to the release.
The delay in final approval has generated a complex situation for the entire value chain; Chile is the second-largest supplier of table grapes to the U.S. with more than 240,000 metric tons shipped in the 2022-23 season and sales of over $480 million, according to the release.
Grape imports from Chile are crucial to meeting demand during the winter months, and with U.S. retailers and consumers demanding consistently high-quality grapes, a systems approach is imperative, according to the letter from the importers.
The letter said: “The 2023-24 Chilean grape season is already upon us. If the systems approach is not published in the Federal Register, this will negatively impact everyone involved in the Chilean grape industry, whether in Chile or the U.S. We look forward to its upcoming approval, as it not only represents a great advance for the long-standing economic relationship between Chile and the United States but, more importantly, benefits U.S. consumers.”
The approval of this regulation will facilitate the supply of consistently high-quality Chilean grapes to American consumers, the release said.