The Chilean cherry is now in season. 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 & Americas Manager at the quality service provider D-Quality Survey. He shared the production and market status of current cherry season and his insight on the Chinese market.
Expected to have 9.8% production increase
Julio first introduced the status of Chilean production region, “the weather has been generally great in Chile, with some cloudy days that slowed down a bit the expected harvests. “Hopefully, we’ll continue with no major issues about weather during summer, so the quality of the arrivals will be perfect.”
The Chilean Fruit Exports Association has recently published the first season forecast. An increase of 9,8% is expected compared to last season, with an approximate overall of 388,000 tons. Although this season there’s a trend on market diversification in China, but China will continue to be the main market for Chilean cherries, which takes around 90% of the exports.
Quality and variety of arriving cherries
Chilean cherries loads started to arrive two weeks ago and will go up to week 46, more than 50,000 boxes of 5kg each have been exported, all of them via air cargo. “For air shipments, we normally don’t find a lot of quality defects as the time between departure and arrival is short. However, this year we have detected some anomalies on the colour,” Julio said.
When talking about the market reaction, Julio said, “the export started slowly, with 1-2 pallets/week, you saw many excited buyers and a very hot market. At the moment, most of the main brands are arriving with their different early varieties. Some days we can find 30 to 40 pallets in one day, and obviously prices decrease. At the moment the price is between 700 and 1200 RMB (5kg/box) on J size, depending on the quality, label, and variety, which is within the normal rate, compared with last year. In general, sales movement is normal and expectations for the rest of the season are very positive. ”
“The arrival cherries are early varieties, Royal Dawn, Brooks and Santina. These products are all from orchards located in the Northern-Central part of Chile. An interesting highlight is that this year, Chile is exporting some cherries from the 4th region, in the North of Chile. Growers there decided to develop cherry projects in orchards where it was believed to be impossible to grow cherries. We are seeing their first harvests these days. Frisco, Royal Lynn, Glen Red are some quite new and interesting varieties of this area.”
When talking about the expectation of the new cherry season, Julio said, “I personally expect a positive season. The weather is good, Chinese importers and buyers are excited, Chilean government is still pumping up the marketing projects. Also, quality companies, logistics, growers and other services-providing companies are doing an excellent job.” Julio said, “I think there will be some unexpected situations because of the actual instability, but it’s part of the game and at the end, everyone will have good results.”
“The business will keep developing on the right path and I wish all the best to everyone involved in the fresh fruit world.” Julio said.
“We feel confident to say that Chilean cherries are safe and Covid-19 free”
The checking procedure for imported fruit is very strict in China at the moment due to covid-19. Julio shared his experiences, “It has been proved that Covid-19 is not present on surfaces, and we feel quite confident to say that Chilean cherries are safe and Covid-19 free. However, in case our customers need a PCR test, we suggest they ask a laboratory to do it, as they handle this kind of inquiries best.”
“As a quality inspection company, we are very focused on fruit quality control, especially on the defects that affect the quality and the conditions of the arrivals. Some other facts that we evaluate are shelf life, gases balances on ATM or CA bags, temperature chain, ventilation, and containers settings too. Particularly in China, we also give commercial support to all our customers through our sales monitoring protocols.”
Julio then shared his experiences and opinions on fruit trading during covid-19 times, “with no doubt we are still living in strange times, marked by economic instability, port delays, uncertain future, market fluctuation. Rumour has it that nowadays imported products are less valuated in China. I’d take that as just a rumour.” Julio said, “in my opinion, the Chinese market gets stricter and stricter on their taste and requirements, year after year. We just need to understand what Chinese consumers need and want, make an effort to adapt ourselves and keep up to satisfy the demand of different foreign products. In that way, I think there isn’t a real reason why the trade volumes should decrease.”
“We help traders to increase mutual trusts”
At the moment, port delays are a real problem everywhere and some of the most affected ports are China’s main ones for fresh fruit importations. “By now, some of our customers’ containers are staying at the port three to ten days upon arrival. I don’t see a change on this in the near future. For me, it’s fundamental to take this situation into consideration and add suitable technology that can allow the fruit to be kept for more days. It can be a valuable solution to overcome this problem.”
“To help our customers in such situation, D-Quality Survey offers independent reports that can help exporters and importers deal with misunderstandings and increase the trust among each other. ”Julio said, “In addition, we are able to act as an official survey company too, by making evaluations and reports that are a real tool for an eventual trial with any insurance, navy or other institutions. Our services are also very used by our customers to improve their quality season after season. We offer quality statistics and comparison between growers, varieties, packaging, etc. All the data is exportable to excel for the customers to use it as they please.”
Julio Ruiz-Tagle (Asia & Americas Manager)
Phone: +56992500021 (Chile Phone) / +8613229312404 (China Phone/Whatsapp/Wechat)