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Argentina's cherry season about to close

Over 80% of the cherry harvest in the Argentinian regions of Valle Medio and Alto Valle del Río Negro has already been completed, and it is expected to finish around 15 December, with much better results than in the 2013 campaign.

"Last year the weather was quite bad; in September, we had average temperatures barely exceeding 15 °C, which is a critical factor for the fertilisation of cherries, and thus production was significantly affected," explains Agustín Jaureguiberry, of Cerezas Argentinas.

Cerezas Argentinas is a young and vibrant company based in the province of Río Negro, with a project clearly oriented towards exports. The company will market 1,000 tonnes of high quality cherries during the current season.

"This year we have very good production volumes for most varieties, and it has not rained during the harvest, which will result in a very positive campaign with full production," affirms Jaureguiberry.

In Chile, however, it did rain, causing serious issues with the harvest. Losses have been estimated at 3 million boxes, which represent 15% of the entire production.

"The impact of what happened in Chile has not been felt yet, as it will still be a few days before the Chilean produce enters the markets. At present, most of the fruit is exported to China, the United States and Europe by air, and most Chilean fruit is exported by sea," explains Agustín.

Large volumes of fruit will enter the markets around 20 December. With the arrival of the first maritime shipments, the impact of the lower volumes of Chilean fruit in the international markets will be clearer.

About the 2014 season, in which the European market has been hit by the crisis with Russia, Jaureguiberry highlights: "Argentina doesn't traditionally ship large volumes of cherries to Russia, so the current crisis has not had much of an impact on us. Europe traditionally pays good prices, but it has a stronger focus on quality rather than volumes. Demand in the UK and continental Europe remains stable, with good prices," says Agustín.

Another vitally important market for Cerezas Argentinas is the United States. "U.S. importers purchase very large volumes, both from Argentina and Chile; there are also some niches for quality, which allow for slightly higher returns. At the moment prices are not the highest, but we are able to ship a lot of fruit," explains Augustine.

Improved logistics for an ambitious project
Cherry air shipments are currently made from Ezeiza International Airport, in the province of Buenos Aires, making it necessary to transport the fruit over long distances by road.

"This week, we are shipping the first batch of cherries from the airport of Neuquen, bound to Miami and then to Hong Kong, which is our current gateway into the Chinese market. It is the result of a joint effort between businesses and the public sector to improve logistics," affirms Jaureguiberry.

This will ensure timely shipments even at times when Ezeiza Airport may be congested and, thanks to proximity to the airport, transport times will also be shortened.

Cerezas Argentinas is currently expanding; the company has 100 hectares in production and another 100 being implemented, and the business plan will bring it to double this figure in the coming years.

"There is still much room for growth; the southern hemisphere produces less than 10% of the world's cherries, and because it is such a seasonal product, it is easy to see that demand exists. The keys for us to become even more successful will be increased efficiency in the production process, while maintaining the same quality standards, and the opening of China, a market with 1,200 million consumers who appreciate cherries," concludes Jaureguiberry.

More information:
Agustín Jaureguiberry
Chimpay,Río Negro, Argentina
M: 011 15 52207069

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