In spite of the fact that Chile’s economic recovery gained momentum this year, no significant gains were noted in food sales. Cumulative growth in supermarket sales for the first 10 months of the year was 0.3%. With the exception of September, sales declined from April through October. In October, sales were 2.3% lower than the same month one year earlier. Sales declines were most pronounced for perishables (-7.9%) and dry goods (-6.5%).

 Even though sales stagnated in 2000, the situation is likely to improve in 2001. As of October, gains were noted in sales of meat (8.7%) and non-food items (3.5 %). Consumer power should improve during 2001, thus increasing the level of discretionary food purchases. Many of Chile’s food producers have been able to offset weak domestic sales with increased exports. Chile is emerging as a Latin American trade hub and a global source of fruit, wines, salmon, and seafood.

By Steve Lewis, correspondent