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Turkish cherry grower chosen for export to China
A number of Turkish growers and exporters have recently been officially registered for export to China during 2017. This registration means that these nine companies are now allowed to push their produce onto the Chinese market. One of registered companies is Alanar. “Our cherry orchard is based in the Afyon region, which is a mid to late region. We also have packing facilities in Alaşehir, that are registered as well. Soon, we’re going to start our harvest seasons for Royal King and Regina cherries, which will then be exported to China,” explains Yavuz Taner of Alanar.
The companies were chosen by both Chinese and Turkish committees after a thorough evaluation. For the last two years the committees determined whether these Turkish companies were capable of meeting the prerequisites for export to China. Not only were the requirements specified with regards to phytosanitary standards. Specifics were also established in relation to what Chinese customers and consumers are looking for in Turkish produce.
“The Royal King is a late variety with a crunchy structure, dark color and high brix levels. It is a sister variety of the Regina cherry. These cherries are the best for the Chinese market. We were advised on consumer requirements. Our cherries are suitable for export by air and by sea container and are now being prepared according to Chinese protocols.”
According to Taner, there were two options for the cherry export to China. Either the company would make use of airfreight, which is to be treated in cold treatment for 16 days. Alanar could also use sea freight, which takes about 30 days. For both options, cold treatment and process is necessary, cooling the cherries to 1 °C. and keeping them for 16 days.
Though Alanar is planning to ships its produce to Shanghai, the company isn’t limited to a certain specific arrival destination, as the registration provides full access to China. The protocol for export is mainly targeted at certain types of pests and diseases. “The main concern for Chinese customs is the Mediterranean fruit fly. However, the Afyon region is completely free of this fruit fly. The region is now being examined by Turkish inspectors, who relay their findings to the Chinese government. In due time, the cold treatment may not be necessary anymore, as this treatment is meant to eliminate insects. However, it probably will take up to three years before this is proven to Chinese authorities,” says Taner.
The nine Turkish companies were selected for their size. A lot of the companies are both growers and packers, offering a package deal. The main competition for China comes from the US and from Chile, which exports cherries during the winter. However, Taner isn’t worried about US competition.
“When we started exporting Turkish cherries to Europe in the ‘90s, the US was our main competitor as well. However, nowadays the US isn’t a competitor anymore. We were able to provide Europe with cherries of a similar quality to the American ones, but with less costs. Our varieties and methods of growing and preparation aren’t that different from the US. The main challenge is going to be logistics, as the US is closer to China than is Turkey. Other than that, we’re able to provide cherries of equal quality as the US and Chile.”
Taner added that prices for export are difficult to predict. “However, we are very competitive in Hong Kong, so I think we’ll be just as competitive in China. 2017 is going to be a trial year for us. We’re not expecting much, but we’re going to try working with air shipments, sea container shipments and cold treatments. We’re going to take note of the reactions from both clients, consumers and Chinese authorities.”
The export volume is only limited by the Turkish production. In due time, Taner expects to produce thousands of tons. A lot of the future plans depend on how much volume packers will be able to process. As the capabilities of packing stations increase, so do the export volumes. Most equipment is up to date, as for the most part the Turkish export to Europe needs to comply to a similar set of protocols. The main differences for China are small additions in protocol with regards to pest control.
“I hope we’ll be successful with cherries, so that we may continue with figs in the coming years. We’re already exporting figs to consumers in Hong Kong. During exhibitions in Hong Kong, about 50% of the visitors who come by our stands are from mainland China.”
“Figs could be a great second export product for this market, after which the market may open up to other Turkish products. I’m looking forward to this. Turkish exporters will need to learn and adapt their system to be suitable for export to china. This is an important issue is for growers. Because of the Chinese market, we are, as the Alanar Company, planting an additional acreage of at least 300 hectares for cherries during the coming 3 years. A lot of companies will be investing in modern cherry orchards, thanks to China.”
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