The US and Canadian cherry season finished well in China. The market is now waiting for the fast-approaching arrival of Chilean products. The weather conditions seem to be favorable for this season’s production and the cherry trees in the orchards have started blossoming. Mr. Matias Agustin Bustamante is the commercial manager at the Chilean cherry exporter APFrut. He shared with us information about the current status of Chilean cherry production and his expectations for this season.
“At least 75% of our products are in the Central-South area in Chile. These valleys have been dramatically affected by long droughts in the past 10 years, with a 75% precipitation deficit. As a consequence, many growers experienced reduced productivity and fruit sizes shrunk as well.” Matias tells us, “Finally rains in this winter have broken this trend. Snow melt-off from the Andes mountains, deep wells, and water tables in the orchards are all filled with natural water again. Our weather station shows 500mm of rainfall, more than double the rainfall of last season.”
Although the water shortage problem is alleviated, local cherry farmers are still facing frost challenges. “During September till October, the buds will have just opened up and they are very sensitive to low temperatures. To avoid frost damage, growers are investing tremendously in frost control, by keeping the soil with high humidity and look for new varieties with high temperature-resistance. But overall, the forecast shows great potential in the cherry orchards, and we believe the fruit quality should come out excellent.”
When talking about APFrut’s business in China, Matias told us, China is for sure the biggest market of Chilean cherries. The overall export volume of Chilean cherries is increasing at least by 20% per year, prediction for this season is between 55-60 millions boxes. To meet the tremendous demand from this market, the Chilean cherry production area almost doubled compared with 5 years ago, exploring different varieties and growing regions, to escape from the peak of production (weeks 49-51).
In recent months, we have seen the Chinese fruit market recovering very fast from the pandemic impact. We heard from many of our local business partners, that their sales of import fruit are growing steadily. The US and Canadian cherry seasons had a good closure in China. So, we are expecting that in 4 months from now, the Chinese market will have recovered enough to receive Chilean cherries and we believe that the market demand will grow back to a high level.
“We noticed that China's customs are stricter with quality control during this period, which is fully understandable. And from our side, we request orchards to implement preventive sanitary controls, and request packing facilities and logistic agencies to be extra careful with the packaging and delivery process. APFrut also runs a frozen-fruits business with more than 14 million kg of products the whole year, so we adapted already to the highest market standards.
On top of our efforts, at the national level, the Cherry Committee, Fedefruta, Asoex, and many government authorities are also working hard to get prepared for the next cherry season”.
Aside from the market demand, Matias thinks given the special circumstance, this year the commercial loyalty is critical to fruit companies’ business development. Exporters have to have close communication with the local buyers and wholesale traders, preventing any potential risks with joint efforts.
APFrut started its business in China in 2014. Last season the company delivered around 100 containers of fresh cherries to China. In the 2020-2021 season, the company's goal is to have a 45% growth. “But of course, this is highly dependent on how the production goes. As we prefer to compete on quality and label positioning, rather than volume.” Matias summarized.
APFrut (Agroindustria Pinochet Fuenzalida Ltda).
Matias Agustin Bustamante (Commercial Manager)
Tel: +56 75 2543954