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Chile expects 10% increase in cherry harvest

Early estimates point to a 10% increase in Chile's cherry production in the coming season, reaching close to 125,000 tonnes.

While it will still be necessary to wait and see the impact of "El Niño" to have a clearer picture of the potentially marketable fresh volumes, there is optimism among producers regarding the season ahead. The harvest of the cherries intended for export is expected to kick off by the second half of next month.

Chilean exports of this product have shown a steady growth over the past three seasons: in 2012/13, just over 50,000 tonnes were exported; in 2013/14, this figure increased to 66,000 tonnes, and a year later, 103,000 tonnes of the fruit were shipping, doubling the figures of the previous two campaigns. This trend is linked to increases in the planted acreage and the entry into production of new plantations. However, some variability at the end of the production cycle, caused by weather conditions, such as frost and rain, is also being observed in recent years. This is being alleviated with better protective coverings for the fruit, resulting in an increase in production costs. The main destination for Chilean exports is China, where about 80,000 tonnes were shipped last year, which is 75% of the total cherry exports. While the prices reached at this destination are noteworthy, this dependence on a single market leaves producers in a vulnerable situation; as a result, discussions are underway for the opening of new markets.

With Chile being the southern hemisphere's main cherry supplier, changes in the volume of exports can directly affect the prices obtained for the product. But there is always an exception to the rule. Last season, China and the United States recorded increases in the price of Chilean cherry shipments, especially in the Asian giant, where prices rose from an average of $ 7.78 to $ 8.86 per kilo FOB, even though the volumes shipped to that country grew by 44%. This higher price entailed an increase in the total average price of cherries exported by Chile. During the 2014/15 season, when the weather conditions were ideal for the fruit's cultivation, there was a further increase in production and this time it did result in lower prices, which reached an average of $ 5.75 season per kilo FOB.


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