Insight – Opportunities for Australian dairy, meat and beverage exports in Chile

17 June 2022

There is strong demand in Chile for many agricultural products produced in Australia. Australian exporters should assess commercial opportunities for beef, dairy, processed food and beverages.

Rising agriculture imports driven by economic growth and consumer demand

The value of Chilean agriculture, fisheries and forestry imports rose by 40.8% from US$7.78 billion (A$11.2 billion) in 2020 to US$10.96 billion in 2021 (A$14.61 billion) (Source: UN Comtrade 2022).

This was a result of higher prices and import volumes, driven by good economic growth and strong consumption demand.

Meat, dairy and beverage products experienced substantial year-on-year import growth in 2021 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Chilean import growth for selected commodities 2020 and 2021

Figure 1 - Chilean import growth for selected commodities 2020 and 2021

Chilean agricultural market snapshot

Chile is a high-income country and a regional leader in South America. Chile has transparent processes for doing business and strong economic indicators including:

  • A high average annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 3.7% between 2000 and 2019 (World Bank 2022).
  • The highest GDP per capita in South America after Uruguay (US$13,200) (World Bank 2022).
  • A well-developed food processing sector. Chilean food processors import roughly half of their agricultural inputs (USDA 2022).

Australia competes with other South American countries, the United States and the European Union in the Chilean market. Chile’s strong horticulture, wine and fisheries sectors play an important role in meeting domestic demand for these products.

However, Chile depends on imports for many agricultural products. They include beef meat and offal, dairy products, grains and many processed and retail-ready products. There are also opportunities for Australian produce based on quality, organic and environmentally conscious production methods.

Australia has multiple trade agreements with Chile to support exports and investment including:

Exporters should be aware that business is typically conducted in a more formal manner in Chile than other South American countries.

Meat

Chile is the largest meat importer in South America. It accounts for approximately three-quarters of the region’s meat imports in 2021.

Chile imported a record US$2.45 billion worth of meat in 2021, representing a 58.8% increase from 2020 (see Figure 1). This was caused by both higher prices and import volumes.

The meat market is well developed with opportunities in the retail and food industry sectors. There is demand for low- and high-quality meat in Chile.

Figure 2: Chilean meat imports 2017 to 2021

Figure 2 – Chilean meat imports 2017 to 2021

  • Australia has technical market access for beef and a 0% preferential tariff under the Australia-Chile Free Trade Agreement.
  • The OECD expects Chile’s beef imports to rise to 359,000 tonnes in 2030, up from 144,400 tonnes in 2010 (OECD-FAO 2022).

Dairy

The value of Chilean dairy imports rose by 32.2% from US$339.8 million in 2020 to US$449.2 million in 2021 (Source: UN Comtrade 2022). The growth was driven by a sharp rise in cheese imports.

Figure 3: Chilean dairy imports 2017 to 2021

Figure 3 – Chilean dairy imports 2017 to 2021

  • Australia has market access for dairy products and 0% tariff rates or large duty-free Australia-only import quotas.
  • Australia exported A$1.4 million worth of cheese to Chile in 2021.
  • Consumption of cheese in Chile is forecast to grow by 16% over the next decade. Consumption is expected to rise from 149,100 tonnes in 2021 to 170,000 tonnes in 2030 (OECD-FAO 2022).

Beverages

The value of Chilean beverage imports rose by 84.2% from US$380 million in 2020 to US$700 million in 2021 (Source: UN Comtrade 2022). In 2021, the value of Chilean beer, spirits and non-alcoholic beverage imports rose substantially:

  • Beer increased by 42.6% from US$177.9 million in 2020 to US$292.5 million in 2021. In 2021, the main suppliers of beer to Chile were Mexico (37.7%), the United States (29.4%) and the European Union (20.8%).
  • Spirits increased by 121.8% from US$86.9 million in 2020 to US$192.8 million in 2021. The growth was driven by increased demand for whiskies, gin, and liqueurs/cordials.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages rose by 84.1% from US$99.1 million in 2020 to US$182.50 million in 2021.

Figure 4: Chilean beverage imports 2017 to 2021

Figure 4 - Chilean beverage imports 2017 to 2021

Resources

The Australian Government’s network of Agriculture Counsellors provided information for this article. More information about the Agriculture Counsellor network, including contact details, is available on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.

Austrade has more information on the Chilean economy and doing business in Chile.

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