By early March, Chilean cherries this season finally left the market. According to data from ASOEX, an association of Chilean fruit exporters, during the 2019/2020 season (the Chilean season lasts from November to February of the following year), a total of 230,000 tons were exported to China and prices were high. In the 2020/2021 season, 330,000 tons were exported to China, showing an increase of 43%, but prices plummeted and retail price fell to 9.9 yuan per half a kilo.
After this blow, will Chilean cherries come back to China next season?
The founder of Fruit Day, a Chinese fruit e-commerce company, said that Chilean cherries will come back next season. With a population of less than 20 million, Chile's domestic consumption is limited, and exports to traditional markets such as Europe and North America are difficult to increase. Currently, 90% of Chilean cherries are exported to China. However, Chilean cherries have transitioned into the “silver age” from the golden age, which will also have multiple impacts on the industry and the market.
First of all, Chile's plans to expand the planted area and increase the number of packaging factories will slow down or be suspended. In recent years, Chile's planted area has been growing at a rate of over 20%. As cherry trees generally start to bear fruit after three years, the production will continue to increase even if the planted area remains the same.
Secondly, the "consignment" model may continue, but the agreed reserve price and expected value may return to a reasonable range. Chilean exporters and fruit growers who were strong in their stance may lower their expectations and proceed negotiations with Chinese importers in a more equal position. China's retail channels, which were originally restrained by the "consignment" model and therefore unable to deal directly with Chilean exporters, are also expected to gain initiative.
Thirdly, the role of Chilean cherries will shift from being gifts in the past winters to direct consumption, which means that consumers will become more picky about the quality of cherries.
Lastly, other fruits will see opportunities in the Chinese market. It is reported that recent wholesale prices of a box of SunGold kiwis from New Zealand or jumbo blueberries from New Zealand has risen by over a hundred yuan. The retail price of durians from Thailand two or three years ago was about 100 yuan each, but they are now at least two to three hundred yuan. This shows that the market demand for high-quality fruits is still strong, but it will focus on more differentiated novelty fruits and niche fruits.