Argentina's cherry season was positive, despite all the challenges it faced in this unusual year, as the country's cherry export volume grew by 8.5% over the previous season.
A video about the Argentine cherry sector made by the Argentine Chamber of Integrated Cherry Producers (CAPCI).
The sector was faced with different logistical challenges, such as the decrease in commercial air cargo flights, and decrease in warehouse space capacity, and the cessation of operations in the country of various airlines. The sector dealt with this problem by carrying out various charter flights. Moreover, the transfer of migrant workers between the different provincial jurisdictions presented difficulties due to the various restrictions imposed by each locality and province, resulting in high operational, logistics, and production costs.
The sector also had to face weather challenges. Provinces such as Chubut and Santa Cruz were affected by intense frosts during the flowering periods, resulting in a significant decrease in their exportable production.
In addition, before the campaign started, the sector expected Chile would have an overproduction of cherries that it would send to its main destination; the Chinese market. However, the biggest impact was caused by the dissemination on social media and on Chinese media about possible COVID-19 infections in imported cherries packagings. This resulted in a decrease in prices at a time when there is usually high demand and created uncertainty among Chinese consumers regarding the purchase and consumption of imported cherries.
China and Hong Kong accounted for 41% of the total volume of cherries exported by Argentina in 2021, the United States and Canada accounted for 31%, and Europe and the United Kingdom for 19%. The volume exported to China and Hong Kong grew by 15.5% over the previous season. Exports to the United States and Canada increased by 9%, and exports to Europe and the United Kingdom grew by 3.83%.
China was the main market for Argentine cherries for the second consecutive year, and Argentina was China's second-biggest southern hemisphere's supplier of cherries (behind Chile). The question is whether Argentine cherries will maintain the trend of concentrating their supply on the Chinese market. Without a doubt, the recognition of the Pest Free Area has had a positive impact on this increase, as the cherry has no need for cold treatments, allowing air shipments. We'll see in the following seasons if this incipient, although marked growth trend in exports to China, consolidates to the detriment of traditional markets.
Leticia Caminiti, BA in Political Science (UBA)