The Argentine cherry fields of Los Antiguos valley are currently in full harvest. The high global demand for this fruit and the advantage that the late harvest gives the region guarantees producers will sell their productions. Approximately 60% of the cherries produced in this department are exported and the remaining 40% goes to the domestic market.
According to Federico Guerendiain, the manager of the El Oasis Cherry Growers Cooperative, the expectations for the harvest are positive. “We've received formal contacts from China, but also from Canada, USA, and Israel. Unfortunately, we've had to say no. Argentina cannot even cover 20% of the orders we receive due to the high demand there is for this product,” Guerendiain said.
The Chinese case is very particular. The market is of gigantic proportions. In March of last year, we sent the first shipment of 15 tons of cherry from Los Antiguos to that market. After that, they started to order huge volumes, which we couldn't supply.
Guerendiain said that the fruit that was transported by ship could enter China since last year, but not the one sent by plane, as it failed to meet the quarantine required to avoid the fruit fly pests. However, on December 16, China recognized that Argentina's Patagonia was free of fruit flies, which means that they already accept air shipments of this fruit.
Despite the high demand, Guerendiain is committed to continuing marketing the fruit to the consolidated markets. “When we have more volume we'll be able to add more markets. For now, we are going to continue working with the clients we've had for 10 or 12 years, as they are very good.” Those markets are Spain, Middle Eastern countries (United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia) and more recently Russia. "If we have enough we will send cherries to China to strengthen the market."
According to the cooperative leader, this is a complex decision that will be taken when they are faced with a great opportunity. It is a huge challenge for the producing area, which should increase its cultivated area, invest in constant modernization, and further increase the quality of its production. However, this will also require public promotion and credit policies that enable these improvements.