Different experts from the cherry sector that participated in the "Cherries 2021: challenges and opportunities after a complex season" webinar, which was organized by the Yentzen Group and the Asoex Cherry Committee, analyzed the last Chilean cherry season 2020-2021 and projected the future challenges of this industry.
A damaging rumor for the campaign
Ignacio Caballero, the Marketing Director of ASOEX, stressed that, despite having a growth of more than 50% increase in the 2020-2021 Chilean cherry season (352,783 tons), its development and prices were impacted by the diffusion of a rumor on Chinese social networks about the detection of COVID-19 in packages of imported cherries. In addition to the arrival of lower quality fruit and smaller sizes.
“This unfounded news, which was never confirmed by the Chinese authorities, was quickly replicated on social networks, reaching more than 965 million impressions between January 22 and 24. We lost 2 to 3 days of sales at a key moment of the season, accumulating a lot of fruit,” Caballero said.
However, he said, the impact would have been much greater if the sector hadn't quickly launched a promotional campaign to regain consumer confidence and encourage consumption.
Projections and challenges
Claudio Vial, the general manager of Ranco Cherries, said that the area in production for the next 5 years was defined by what has already been planted unless there is a change in the rate that the existing orchards are renewed and uprooted. "In the year 2025, there would be 55,000 hectares that would produce 130 million boxes of cherries, which means there will be a 15% annual increase in volume. If the current rate of plantations continues there would be 60,000 hectares and an export volume of 145 million boxes, which can grow to 200 million," he said.
One of the points discussed by the exhibitors was the need to diversify markets. Vial said that even if they promoted exports to other markets and they accounted for 24% of the total export volume by 2025-2026, the Chinese market would continue to be important as it would account for 76 % of all exports and would have grown by 55% over 2020.
The sector needs to make efforts to diversify markets but with products that meet the quality that markets and consumers require. Cristian Tagle, the president of the ASOEX Cherry Committee, said the Committee was going to start working on a quality standard and defining the sector's future and its challenges.