According to Ignacio Caballero Torretti, the marketing assistant manager of the Fruit Exporters Association of Chile (ASOEX), the popularity of Chilean cherries in the Chinese market is due to several factors, including the growth of the middle class in the Asian country and the recent celebration of the Chinese New Year, a moment in which cherries are a perfect gift because their red color and round shape are associated with the symbols of prosperity and success in Chinese culture.
Another factor that has boosted sales of Chilean cherries in China is the country's economic growth, which has increased the purchasing power of the population, according to Caballero Torretti.
Cherry is a delicate product and requires special treatment to arrive in good quality conditions to China, a distant market for Chile. In addition, distribution processes at the national level in a country as big as China represent the greatest challenge, according to the specialist. Therefore, much Chilean fruit has been centralized in the coastal areas, where the main markets of Shanghai, Canton, and Beijing are located, and from where it is distributed among the smaller secondary and tertiary markets.
"At first, we send a volume of fruit to China by air to take advantage of a seasonal window, but the bulk of our exports is by sea, where we have container transport and refrigerated ships. There are also fast routes and boats, which allow us to better navigate this long travel distance in the shortest time possible."
According to Caballero Torretti, the Chilean cherry industry is a sector that has grown over the past five years and is expected to continue to grow. Today, according to one of the latest Fruit Registries carried out by the Information Center of Natural Resources (CIREN), there are 25,109 hectares planted with cherries reaches in the country.
During the 2017-2018 campaign, the country exported a historical 186,504 tons of cherries, i.e. 95.72% more than in the previous year.
Chilean producers expect to increase shipments in the next season, although there are several factors that can affect the harvest, such as climate change, which can cause rains and frosts in the harvest period, port stoppages that delay shipments, or special conditions in the target markets.