The first “Cherry Express” one of a fleet of 11 weekly ships, is on its way from the port of Valparaíso, Chile, to Hong Kong, China. The mainland Shanghai office of Garces Fruit, with their own brand called Jizhi 吉制, are hard at work to co-ordinate the arrival and distribution of their first containers, ready to delight customers across 30 Chinese cities.
The Garces Fruit team in China
According to Hernán Garces Gazmuri, Manager of Garces China's office in Shanghai: “The estimates of the industry in Chile for this season are that shipments and the marketing of cherries should grow around 25%, that is, a little more than 20 000 containers. We hope to be in the same line, contributing with around 2,200 containers for this season.”
The Chinese New Year, is set to take place on the earliest date in many years, from Sunday 22 January 2023. This leaves the Chilean cherry industry with little time to fill the huge demand in time. Not to worry says Garces Gazmuri, they have made the plans to provide enough supply in time. “In this context, we know how important this New Year's holiday is for China and how cherries play a special role in the celebration. For the same reason, and as the industry in general has done, we prepare in advance to be able to arrive smoothly to each New Year's celebration, regardless of the date,” says Garces Gazmuri.
Garces Fruit grows and exports a dozen cherry varieties, to both China and the US markets, such as Santina, Regina, Lapins, Reinier, among others. The season of these varieties usually extends between the months of October and January, during spring and summer in the Southern Hemisphere. However, their fruit is present in the destination markets until February.
“We are proud to be the largest producer and exporter of cherries in Chile, as well as to bring the best Chilean fruits to the most demanding markets in the world. We have achieved this with effort, efficiency, collaborative work and permanent innovation, without forgetting where we come from: we are an agricultural company of family origin. Currently, we have more than 40 fields distributed in 5 regions in the central area of the country and in high season we have more than 17 000 workers. Also, we work closely with over 350 third-party farmer experts,” explains Garces Gazmuri.
Garces Fruit has a commercial office in the USA to serve the North American markets, and an office in Shanghai for the Asian market. “This allows us to be vertically integrated from sale to production, even having our own plant production (nursery). Since 2017 we are present in China with a commercial office in Shanghai. This office manages and maintains commercial relations with different markets and customers in more than 30 Chinese cities. I lead this office as part of the third generation of the Garcés family. I came from the United States with the firm intention of strengthening the relationship of trust and business that had been developing for more than 25 years with China. China is Chile's largest trading partner and the largest investor in our country, as well as being the company's main business partner. In these years, we have learned a lot from Chinese culture and grown with this cultural exchange, built on the foundation of mutual respect, cooperation and shared gain,” explains Garces Gazmuri.
Garces Fruit is well recognised as a reliable brand in China and has partnerships with the leading retailers. “We have been working with JD.com for three seasons, and this year we are preparing co-branding activities for pre-sale of our fruit. We are very happy to have an industry giant, such as JD.com as our business partner, considering that we are the only Chilean fruit brand registered in JD.com. In addition to JD.com, we also work with Hema of the Alibaba group, Ding Dong, Fruit Day, and other platforms that have integrated the offline channel with the on-line one,” states Garces Gazmuri.
“So far everything is working well, as expected and planned. We work a lot on logistics planning, both in Chile and with our team in China, even more so after the difficulties of recent years. We have every confidence that everyone involved will do their part to make this entire chain work satisfactorily. Indeed, this week began the "Cherries from Chile" season in the port of Valparaíso, which makes us very happy,” concluded Garces Gazmuri.