The Chinese import season of Chilean cherries is in full swing. The market conditions of imported Chilean cherries (air freight) are so far better than last year. The price of 5-kg bags of Chilean cherries is on average 50-100 yuan [7.63-15.25 USD] higher than around this time last year. The first early-season Chilean cherries sold in Shanghai this year fetched a record price. The Chilean cherries that arrived by chartered plane do not seem to have suffered from the global outbreak of Covid-19. As for the cherries currently at sea on their way to the Chinese market, the exact impact of the rising shipping cost is not yet clear.
The market for air-freighted Chilean cherries is currently in good shape. The main reason is the limited supply volume of air-freighted Chilean cherries. The number of flights is limited due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which in turn reduces the supply volume of air-freighted Chilean cherries. At the same time, the regionalization of markets has a stabilizing effect on the retail price. However, it is still too early to talk about prices and market conditions with any kind of accuracy, because the shipping containers full of Chilean cherries have not yet arrived. Once the containers start arriving in large volumes in late December and early January, only then will the market conditions become clear.
"Our company mainly sells Santina, Bing, Lapins, and Sweetheart Chilean cherry varieties. We sell our cherries online and offline throughout China. Our offline sales channels are traditional wholesale markets such as Guangzhou Jiangnan Wholesale Market and Shanghai Huizhan Market. Our online sales primarily consist of B2B transactions. We have operated in this fashion for 4 years now and our sales volume grows every year." This is according to Mr. He, COO of Berda Fruit Co., Ltd.
The production volume of Chilean cherries is larger than last year. The export volume to China is also larger. The conditions for air-freighted cherries are excellent at the moment, but the market is likely to change when sea-freighted cherries arrive in large volumes. According to Mr. He, "according to our predictions the Covid-19 pandemic will affect the consumption power of Chinese consumers. We expect the price to drop slightly below last year's price level. However, as long as the cherries meet the Chinese market requirements for product quality, then the Chinese market will be able to absorb the import volume that grows day by day. Chilean cherries are an important product in the Chinese fruit market. Traders, whether online or offline, are keeping a close eye on the conditions. In addition, the cherry production season in Chile falls during the winter in China, just before Chinese consumers celebrate Chinese Spring Festival [12 February, 2021]. In other words, the Chilean cherries arrive at the most opportune moment in the Chinese market. US cherries and Canadian cherries do not have this advantage. Furthermore, US cherries suffer from higher custom tariffs as a result of the Sino-US trade war."
As for the rising shipping cost and the shortage of shipping containers, "we think this situation is on the one hand the result of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a lot of pressure on Europe and the USA to return the empty shipping containers to Asia, and China in particular, where there is currently a shortage. On the other hand, businesses in China resumed operations. Production and distribution are returning to regular levels and this also stimulates export. That is why shipping containers have been more difficult to find in the second half of this year. This situation has not yet had any impact on Chilean cherry export. Chile still has access to sufficient shipping containers. We also expect the shipping cost to remain within regular margins. In all honesty, the main factor in price fluctuations for Chilean cherries is the relation between supply and demand. If market conditions are not great, the price of Chilean cherries will fall, regardless of increased shipping costs. The Egyptian oranges are an excellent example of this market mechanism. In the first half of this year, the purchase price of Egyptian oranges increased every week, but the retail price in the Chinese market remained low."
Berda Fruit Co., Ltd. imported the same amount of cherries as last year. That is mainly because there are a lot of uncertain market factors. Buyers tread with care and wait to see how the market develops. Chile has implemented many strict measures in the fruit export industry to prevent the spread of Covid-19. There should not be any problems, but the situation remains difficult to predict at the moment.
For more information:
Mr. He - COO
Berda Fruit Co., Ltd.
Tel.: +86 20 8127 3836