One of the pioneers in the production and export of Chilean fruit is without a doubt Exportadora Rucaray. The company was established in 1978 by growers Ramón Achurra and Miguel Vial. Together with Commercial Director Francisco Letelier, they turned the famous ‘Rucaray’ brand into a major player.
The company began to produce fruit for export nearly 40 years ago. At the time, there were few companies involved in exporting, mostly because they lacked experience with storage techniques. Moreover, there was still limited knowledge of new markets outside of Chile. But Rucaray took on the challenge and became - four decades later - one of the first companies to set foot in Europe. Imported fruit was still a luxury at that time, so consumers did not expect such products to be available all year round. But these Chilean growers never would have imagined that developments would take place so quickly.
Over the years, Rucaray continued to invest in expanding its land area. They currently have 2,000 hectares for production and primarily grow stone fruit, deciduous fruit, grapes and kiwis. What makes Rucaray so different from other Chilean exporters is that, after all these years, the company is still owned 100% by the growers. A little more than a decade ago a new generation of growers-owners joined the company, adding new energies and knowledge. These are Cristian Ortiz and Antonio Walker who, now a days, produce and export along with Ramon Achurra the entire production of Rucaray (approximately 4.200.000 bushels). “And this growth development continues,” says Commercial Manager Jorge Yavar. “Every year, we plant new hectares of fruit and replace older trees with new varieties, ones that we expect will become increasingly in demand in coming years.” Rucaray now has six packing stations spread across the Chilean production areas.
Europe has always been a major market for Rucaray. When they first began exporting, virtually all fruit was sent to Europe. Nowadays, their export markets are more widespread and major markets now include Asia, the Middle East, North and Latin America.
This Chilean company expects the international food demand to continue to increase, especially the demand for healthy food like fruit. This increase in new market opportunities, combined with new post-harvest technologies, the introduction of more resistant varieties and more accessible logistics services, give Chilean exporters more opportunities to sell to different markets.
"So we now consider our partnership more than just a business relationship"
All the same, the export volume for Europe remains considerable. “We feel comfortable with our European receivers because they operate in a stable and mature market. In practice, this means that we sell around 45% of our produced volume to this market,” says Yavar. “We have been working with the Total Produce B.V. team for decades. They were one of our first contacts after establishing Rucaray. So we now consider our partnership more than just a business relationship; the confidence we have in our receivers is essential. We invest a considerable amount of time and money into our product and plantations, so it is extremely important to have a good partner who can get our products into consumer fruit bowls on the other side of the world. So the input we receive from these buyers in terms of market developments is very important to us.”
The technical team at Total Produce B.V. provides this Chilean exporter with continuous feedback on how the company can best develop into the future. “This enables us to work towards further improving our product on a daily basis. The input we receive from our buyers with regard to market developments is indispensable. This information provides direction to the strategy for the future to be followed by our growers,” concludes Yavar.
Total Produce B.V. and Rucaray will be facing a new challenge as from mid June, but this time of a more sporty nature. ‘La Marea Roja’ (the Chilean national football team) will be playing against ‘La Naranja Mecánica’ (the Dutch team) during the World Cup in Brazil on 23 June. “We may be on less friendly terms than usual during the match, but like a famous Chilean football player once said: “Where fear comes together, the best will win!”