Andrés Santa Cruz, founder and managing director of Kaikén, a marketer in international markets of this dry fruit, as well as walnuts and other fresh fruits, estimates that the strength that China acquired in 2022 as an importer of Chilean prunes will be maintained in this period.

Doubts have already been dispelled regarding China, a country that had a significant jump last year, quadrupling orders for 2021, but that no one could assure that it would happen again given the ups and downs that this market has experienced in recent years, above all, because of the pandemic. “But you can see that now what happened in China is something continuous over time,” he says.

In 2022, the Asian giant was the world’s leading importer of this superfood, followed by Mexico and the United Kingdom. Shipments to that country reached 11,582 metric tons (MT), equivalent to US$ 36.5 million. The total exports of Chilean prunes, during 2022, was US$ 256 million, equivalent to 67,000 MT.

Specifically for Kaikén, “China will be our main destination in terms of volume and turnover, considering all the variety of our products, and it will be in the top 3 in the specific case of prunes. Europe is also a relevant market for us, mainly Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain”, indicates the executive, a commercial engineer by profession and who comes from a family linked to agriculture.

Regarding demand, Santa Cruz comments, “in general, the markets are quite active, with good demand, except in Europe, where purchase decisions are slower. They are more fearful due to various factors, inflation among others. At the other extreme is China, very active and wanting to continue buying”

He adds that in terms of logistics, the markets are completely normalized in all areas, but that “better prices still need to be reached in terms of shipping rates. There are destinations where prices have already been at pre-pandemic levels for some time, while others where you still see rates that are almost double. However, they are much better than the peak prices we saw in Europe of $7,500 – $8,000 for a 20ft container.

Kaikén is a company created by Andrés Santa Cruz, with more than a decade of life, which in 2021 renewed its image due to a change in business vision that aims to strengthen itself in the field of fresh and dried fruit (previously it was called Surnat, a name that was conceptually closely related to nuts).

The company does not have plantations -that is, it does not have its own fields-, but it does work with related fields located in Buin and southern Chile and with a network of associated producers mainly in the VI and VII regions.

It exports 1.5 million kilos of prunes alone, ranking among the top 15 firms in the area. “By 2025, we hope to be a relevant player in the industry, exporting between fresh and dehydrated, the dry equivalent of more than 5 million kilos,” adds Santa Cruz.

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