Chileans look to sea freight Faced with a booming market for their forthcoming cherry crop, Chilean exporters are expected to be more reliant this season on sea freight through shortage of aircraft. KLM and British Airways have stopped their cargo flights, leaving only LAN Chile and Lufthansa. Cherry growers will therefore have to compete for space with berry exports which have no alternative as well as other perishable products such as the first stone fruit and salmon. The alternative is to use modified atmosphere packaging which can withstand the sea voyage where freight costs are five times cheaper. Exporters estimate this method of transportation has already been so successful that their shipments rose from 10% to 30% last season. Last year Europe became Chile's third largest customer between September and February, taking over nearly 20% of the 1,459 tonnes exported. Latest crop news indicates that volumes available will be broadly similar to last year, and quality will be similar. While the major region, Curico, expects a drop in production, other new production zones such as Rancagua are expected to compesate. Fruit in the former area has not been affected by recent rains because it is not at the stage of maturity where cracking could be a problem. But frost damage reduced flowering and varieties like Bing and Lambert could be as much as 40% lighter. However, Van and D'Annonay will be heavier. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}