Ovalle, the northernmost cherry producing region of Chile, has begun harvesting its cherries with a view to the Chinese market. According to one of the latest fruit registry surveys, carried out by the Natural Resources Information Center (CIREN), there are 69.9 hectares planted with cherry trees in Ovalle.
The producers of the Valle Arriba Spa agricultural industry began harvesting cherries on Monday, October 14. This means that the country's 2019-2020 season exports to China, which account for 90% of total production, started this week.
The Tabali farm (about 20 kilometers from Ovalle), belonging to the company, has been exporting cherries for four years. However, it was only in 2016 when they started working with the Garces exporter that this item started showing its potential, as they are the only ones in the region that export it. According to the representative of the Garces agricultural exporter, Ignacio Pizarro, the product should be arriving in China this Friday, and it should already be on supermarket shelves this weekend.
More cherries and better quality
This year, the cherries matured earlier than usual and yields improved to 20 kilos per tree. “We have 666 trees per hectare, which gives us a projection of 12,000 kilos per hectare,” said Pizarro, who added that in previous years the farm's maximum production was 7,500 kilos per hectare.
Consumption in China: a privilege
The cherry is not a cheap fruit in China where, according to Chinese culture, its rounded shape and red color grant it a symbolic value of prosperity and good omens. Thus, giving cherries for the Chinese New Year represents a sign of distinction for the middle and upper classes, who can pay up to 40 dollars (more than 28,000 Chilean pesos) for a box of 2.5 kilos, says Ignacio Pizarro.
Chile is China's main supplier of cherries, especially in the Chinese New Year period. According to data from China Customs, 86% of the cherries consumed in China come from Chile. Meanwhile, Chile exports 88% of the cherries it produces to the Asian country.