Eugenio Ulrici, the manager of Agrichile, made a positive projection about the Chilean hazelnut sector's production at the Annual Meeting of the Producers of European Hazelnut, recently held in Talca's Spanish Stadium. It was attended by more than 200 producers from the regions of Maule and Biobio."We estimate that Chile will produce about 19 thousand tons of hazelnut in 2017, thus, deepening the growth trend of recent years," said the representative of the subsidiary of the Italian group Ferrero. He later added that last year Chile had produced more than 16 thousand tons of hazelnuts.
The region of Maule produced nine thousand of these tons. Maule has more than six thousand hectares planted with hazelnut, and around 150 producers of this nut, which is mainly used to produce sweets and bakery products, and is the raw material for Ferrero's products, such as Nutella and Ferrero Rocher chocolates.He also stressed that the domestic market, which knew little about the hazelnut in 1991, when Agrichile was created, had been expanding and growing for several years.
To promote this culture, "The company established agreements with foreign producers and implemented a nursery system to grow plants and sell them at cost price to the people who were interested in cultivating European hazelnuts. As a result, producers became aware of the product, the sector and the crop developed in the country, and Chile began to shine on the international markets," the executive stated.
In this context, the manager said that the regions of Maule, Bio Bio, and La Araucania were very important for this market, mainly because of their climatic conditions and because they "have proven that they are interested in increasing their production capacity, as they concentrate the greatest number of hectares planted with this product."In this regard, he added, Maule plays a fundamental role, as Agrichile has 2,660 hectares planted in Curico, Rio Claro, San Rafael, and Parral. Agrichile also has a nursery, a drying and husking plant in this region "it is our most important investment in recent years," he said.
During the meeting, Camillo Scocco, the general manager of Agrichile, stated "the continued growth we're having, particularly since 2010 when we produced a little more than 2,000 tons, makes us extremely satisfied and demonstrates the tremendous potential that Chile has regarding hazelnut production."Scocco said Chile currently had more than 15,000 hectares planted with hazelnuts and that they expected there would be more than 20,000 hectares by the end of 2017. He also said that, if the sector continued the same sustained growth of recent years, Agrichile was sure that the country would become one of the largest exporters of hazelnuts worldwide.
Eugenio Ulrici said the European hazelnut had a huge demand in the international markets. Proof of this is that, since 2010 all the hazelnut produced is consumed without exception, at least when it comes to the high quality product that can be obtained in Chile. Thus, he added, "it is essential that Chile's hazelnut sector continues to grow."The price of this nut is governed by the development of the harvest season in Turkey, which is the largest producer in the world, with more than 700 thousand hectares planted, he stated. "Chile has a privileged position in this industry because its production comes out in the counter season of the major global powers, Turkey and Italy," he added.