Last year the New Zealand cherry crop was early, but this year it is right on track to start 15th or 16th of December, which is ideal for supplying the Christmas market then continuing into Chinese New Year.
“We are just through flowering and have a good fruit set,” explains Sharon Kirk, International Sales Manager from Pure Pac, the packhouse and marketing company for a group of cherry growers based in Cromwell, Central Otago on New Zealand’s South Island.
“We have had some cold events and they've forecast snow for this week, and depending how long it remains cold, will keep the crop on target for a ‘normal’ season. We expect to have around 700 tonnes this season, 500 of which will be for export.”
Last season Pure Pac had around 500 tonnes, the additional volume comes through having a new grower on board and increased volumes from maturing orchards. Sharon expects to have as much as 1200 tonnes in the next 3 to 4 years.
Due to the increase in production Pure Pac are actively pursuing new markets. “We have a big demand from China and other Asian countries, but diversification is definitely the way to go. We sent cherries to Holland last year and now have seen interest from Germany, France and the UK. Supplying Europe is tricky, we only have one shot at it for the Christmas market. We harvest 15 -16th December, pack on the 17th and can have the cherries in the stores in time for Christmas.”
Pure Pac will send more cherries to Europe this year and aim to build confidence and increase volumes in coming years, hoping to extend past the Christmas demand.
Into January there is huge demand throughout Asia as Chinese New Year approaches, but Asian people are spread throughout the world, so this demand is also in other countries in January too.