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EU: Cherries from Chile in short supply

Untimely frosts during Chile's spring have led to diminished production of cherries from there. Subsequent low volumes have made for high prices, and European buyers are working hard to secure cherries from South America.

“We had a very late and very bad frost this spring, around the second week of September, that damaged flowers and setting fruit,” said SudFruit's Jacques Joubert. SudFruit is based in Argentina, but they source fruit from both Chile and Argentina for export to Europe. Joubert noted that the frost, which has also affected production of other crops throughout South America, has made it tough to find the fruit his clients want. Persistent demand combined with scarce supplies have made for high prices.

“Production of cherries from Chile has been down by 60 percent,” said Joubert. “Prices have been very good.” The price for a five-pound box of South American cherries in Europe, according to Joubert, is currently hovering around 60 dollars a box, though he noted that that same box of cherries would likely have brought twice that amount during the first week of the season. As it stands, he expects current prices to remain stable until after the first week of January, especially considering supplies from South Africa are not likely to satisfy pent-up demand.

“South Africa, which is another source of cherries, got a lot of early rains, so the cherries got too wet and there have been quality problems,” said Joubert. “So everyone's asking for cherries, but they can't find them.” Although prices remain high, Joubert explained that exporters in Argentina are having a tough time turning a profit because of circumstances relating to government policy about the exchange rate. While the cost SudFruit pays growers for their cherries climbs, Joubert said that government policy capping the current exchange rate has made it difficult for them. But despite the circumstances, Joubert said they'll continue to supply fruit to their existing customers and will welcome any new customers looking for cherries, even if they have to take a hit in the short-term.

“If there's a shortage now and I can supply clients,” said Joubert, “then I'm sure they'll be back when there's plenty of fruit.”

For more information:
Jacques Joubert
Tel: + 54 264 421 8802/ 432 3321

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