Hazelnuts in Chile: investment opportunity for European SMEs
European hazelnut in Chile could well be called an industry nowadays as the country has more than 15,000 hectares planted. Chile's harvest amounted to 15.000 tons in 2015 and expectations are that this current harvest would amount to more than 20,000 tons. The annual growth stood at 1,000 hectares and expectations are that by 2020 the country will have 22,000 hectares; in the year 2000 the country only had 2,000 hectares planted.
The two regions leading the rise of hazelnuts in Chile are the Maule Region, which has approximately 5,000 hectares, and the Araucanía Region, with 7,000 hectares.
The opportunities that Chile has regarding hazelnut are sustained in the 5% annual growth in demand for this fruit, not only of walnuts, almonds or pistachios, thanks to the integration of countries that are purchasing products based on hazelnuts. The other point that favours Chile is that the production per hectare in other countries has been growing more slowly for different reasons.
If planting and production continue like years before, Chile will position in next years as the third largest supplier of hazelnut with 45,000 tons, per year. Turkey is the leader, producing on average 550,000 tonnes of hazelnuts every year, accounting for 70-75% of global output. Italy is the second largest producer with around 100,000 tonnes (13%), and the US produces around 35,000 tonnes (4%).
To realize these aspirations, it will be necessary to expand the planted hectares, but also to increase productivity by strengthening research and development in accordance with the reality of each chilean region.