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Japan authorizes importation of Chilean cherries under Systems Approach scheme

The Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG) and the Fruit Exporters Association of Chile (Asoex) confirmed that Japan opened its market to Chilean cherries under the Systems Approach scheme, allowing the phytosanitary inspection at source as an option to the fumigation treatment.

The measure became effective on Wednesday November 19, after a Japanese inspector from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (MAFF), that is in Chile monitoring the activities performed in cherry orchards and packing houses, approved the beginning of shipments.

Tatsuo Matsuda, MAFF inspector, verified the compliance with the Systems Approach’s regulations and instructions, which will allow Japan to mitigate the phytosanitary risk posed by the presence of the codling moth, or Cydia pomonella, in Chile: a quarantine pest for the Asian nation.

Matsuda, accompanied by SAG professionals, will be visiting the orchards and packing plants of the Regions VI and VII between November 17 and 25, in a tour organized by Asoex.

In this regard, the national director of the SAG, Angel Sartori said: "We are delighted by the opening of the Japanese market for the Chilean cherries via the Systems Approach, because it shows that other nations have great confidence on the work done by the Agricultural and Livestock Service to guarantee the health of our agricultural and forestry products. Additionally, it is an excellent opportunity for Chilean producers, so we will concentrate on making a coordinated effort with our peers in Japan, responding to the high phytosanitary standards required by that market."

Meanwhile, Ronald Bown, president of Asoex said: "The opening of Japan to the Chilean cherries under the Approch Systems scheme is the result of arduous and coordinated work between the public and private sectors. The SAG, Asoex, the Foundation for Fruit Development and the MAFF negotiated for nearly three years, in order to develop all the technical investigations that Japan required to successfully implement the Systems Approach in cherries."

Bown added: "Before this measure we could only export cherries to Japan by spraying them at origin, which made it impossible for us to ship important volumes and develop this market, as we could only export our fruit by air, which meant there were higher shipping costs."

"It's good news, but it must be taken with considerable caution in the sense that it is not a market where we can start sending large volumes right away. We need to develop that market and do it with our feet on the ground and with good planning. We must analyse this market, which has been through a recession for some time. Cherry consumption mainly takes place at Christmas and Valentine's Day, so those would be two dates when shipments would peak, but exports will no doubt be rather modest at the beginning, "said Cristian Tagle, Chairman of the Chilean cherries Committee.

Tagle added: "We’ve only been able to export fairly small volumes because we had to export by air, and that also affected costs. Now, with this opening we are allowed to ship our product by sea, pay lower freight and achieve more competitive prices, which allows for a greater amount of Japanese consumers to access our product, which is certainly great news."

The representative of the Committee also stated that the cherries would have a better quality and condition as they didn’t have to undergo a fumigation process. "The other positive thing is we’ll be able to comply with the shipments’ dates. Before, we could only ship our cherries by air and there are usually a lot of delays at airports in December. Hence, we lost credibility on the timeliness of our deliveries, which is something we must change and reverse. The sea shipments will allow us to be more punctual with our deliveries," he said.

According to figures from Asoex, Chile exported 5,403 boxes of Bing cherries to Japan during the 2009-2010 season, while in the 2011-2012 season, shipments amounted to 1,380 boxes. Chile didn’t export cherries to Japan during the 2010-2011 and 2013-2014 seasons.

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