EU: Cherries scarce as Southern Hemisphere volumes fail to materialise

Southern Hemisphere cherry imports to the UK and Europe are slow, there has been a very lengthy delay in the start of the season. Traditional sources, Chile and Argentina have had cool weather, hail and some rains. The emerging southern hemisphere supplier, South Africa has suffered a similar fate.

Chilean cherry production for week 44 was only 15 tons, unlike 2010 and 2011, in which export volumes were around 198 and 112 tons, respectively. According to Decofruit, it is expected that during 2012/13 between 64,600 and 66,750 tons (13.2 to 13.6 million boxes) will be exported to the different target markets. This range is between 7 and 10% lower compared to 71,774 tons (14.7 million boxes) exported in the 2011/12 campaign. So far exports have only reached 83k boxes, compared to 550k last year

According to Jon Clark from Total Cherry, global demand is high and actual volumes will fall well short of pre-season estimates. He explains it will be interesting to see how the supply and demand is balanced this season on a global basis.

Growers may also look to more appealing markets, such as the Middle and Far East where they are happy to pay a premium. Prices in Hong Kong last week reached USD 192-215/box of 5 kilos.

Australia are the only Southern Hemisphere provider who have a good crop, but imports in to Europe are not easy with a full 12% duty imposed and the cost/environmental impact of flying fruit from the other side of the world. The eastern markets will also be far more attractive to them.

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