The Chilean cherry season is coming soon. Unlike in previous years, the pandemic has limited the presence of Chinese importers in Chilean orchards, which makes it harder for importers to evaluate fruit quality and verify the trustworthiness of new suppliers, but still, the industry has good expectations of the coming season. Julio Ruiz-Tagle is the Asia & Latin America Manager at the quality service provider D-Quality Survey. He shared with us insights in the trend of Chinese companies’ orchard tours over the past years, and introduced D-Quality’s new remote quality control service particularly for the coming cherry season.
Julio is checking the fruit quality in the cherry orchard
Chinese companies’ Cherry Tour becoming popular
A few years ago, the majority of Chinese companies only purchased cherry from Chilean exporters. With the soaring export volume, they started buying lands in Chile, investing in offices and packing factories, and hiring local staff. In this way, investors can export cherries grown from their own orchards, and have good control over every trade stage. This business model is becoming more and more popular every year.
Aside from that, with the success of the cherry export business, the Chilean cherry sector is receiving an increasing number of Chinese investors every year. “To give an approximate number, last year from mid-September / beginning of October until the end of December in 2019, the country received more than 100 Chinese companies checking local cherry orchards and facilities. These visiting groups have also contributed to the prosperity of the local tourist industry in the capital city Santiago, and the so-called “cherry capital” Curicó. Especially in Curicó, since a couple of years ago, the city started offering options of restaurants, hotels, interpreters and other small businesses targeting Chinese cherry investors visiting Chile.” Julio said.
Julio is happy to see that more and more Chinese companies are paying a visit to the Chilean cherry sector. “On the one hand, this is important for importers to gain experience with fruit quality control, processing facilities and suppliers trustworthiness. On the other hand, such cherry tours help both parties tighten their business friendship”.
“The friendship is very important for long-term business and commercial trust. Over the years, Chilean companies have successfully adapted themselves and gained a better understanding of cultural phenomena.”
Chilean cherry orchard
Special program for remote quality control
Due to the pandemic, it becomes difficult for Chinese importers to travel to Chile this year, thus they are not certain of the quality of the fruit they plan to sell in the local market, especially when they are dealing with new suppliers.
“As a quality survey company, we detected this problem and worked on a solution.” Julio said, “we have been developing a new survey APP (iOS/Android) for Chinese importers to check the quality of their cherry products. Importers can get an overview of every shipment, so they will have enough time to plan a commercial strategy. In addition to the “produce quality APP”, we continue to provide our well-known quality consultancy service in China and the rest of Asia, Europe and Middle East. “We offer our customers quality data for the continuous improvement of fresh fruit.”
Julio has experienced eight cherry seasons and has watched the development of the sector. With the blooming of the business, Julio got busier, and his team keeps growing. “Several years ago, only I was involved in our company’s China business. But with the increase in trade volume and with more importers’ attention paid to quality control issues, we now have a team of 10 people helping the service in Asia and Chile. We are constantly developing new services and programs in order to fulfil the requirements from this huge market.
Expectations for the coming cherry season
“In the season 2019-2020, we reached an export record of 220k tons (+26% than 2018-2019). If the weather helps, we expect to break a new record in the season 2020-2021, with 285k tons (+12,2%).” Julio said, “Nowadays the demand is not only from first tier cities (BJ, GZ and SHA), but also from second and third tier cities, with various channels including wholesales, e-commerce and retail.” Julio said.
When asked if the pandemic will affect export volume for the current season, Julio told us, “The cherry has a high FOB exported value (around 1400 million dollars in 2019-2020), and is one of the main crops for export. Despite the pandemic impact, with the support and attention paid to the industry, we believe the cherry business will keep blooming in the foreseeable, short-term future.”
Small cherries on the branch
Julio Ruiz-Tagle (Asia & Latin America Manager)
Phone: +56992500021 (Chile Phone) / +8613229312404 (China Phone/Whatsapp/Wechat)