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China becomes the main market for Chilean cherry

In recent years cherry has become an important piece of trade relations between Chile and China, and there are Chilean producers of this fruit today that allocate much of their production to the Chinese market.

This is the case of the firm Rucaray, located in Rancagua, about 100 kilometers south of Santiago, and with 14 years of exporting cherries to China. 82 percent of their harvest is aimed towards this market, and has a modern processing plant, employing mainly women, responsible of cleaning fruits and preparing their packaging.

Rucaray's commercial director, Ricardo Vial Vial, told Xinhua that the Chinese market has meant "great development" for its fields and has led to an increase in employment. "China gives us stability, has helped us grow, and diversifies us as we produce other products."

He added that the Chinese market "has given respite to fruit growing in Chile" in difficult years due to production conditions, and difficulties with the currency exchange rate. The country has some 24,000 hectares of cherries and plans to further expand the development of this fruit.
Ricardo Vial said his country needed to diversify its markets, before focusing on the US and Europe. Nowadays it is also committed to destinations such as China and Southeast Asia. In this regard, the signing of the 2005 free trade agreement involved a sharp increase in trade and made China Chile's primary trading partner.

According to information from the AsociaciĆ³n de Exportadores de Frutas de Chile, during the 2016 export season the Chilean industry could reach a volume of around 100,000 tons of cherries.
This year, many charter planes have brought cherries to China and are expected to resume maritime shipping to export the fruit.

According Vial, when there is not much demand for cherries the price of its air transportation is $3.60 per kilo, although it varies each week. The problem with air shipments is that there is no direct connection to China. Sea freight, on the other had, is at $1.30, but takes about 22 days.

Cherry can not be stored for a long time, but now there is a bag being produced which better preserves it. Thus, it is feasible to transport it 30 days by boat and, as there are large refrigerators in China, can be stored up to 20 days more.

Despite the weather problems this year, the Rucaray company could export 20 million five kilo boxes of cherries, and is also involved in wine production, which also have China as their main market.

"We are cherry exporters, and exports to China have been growing every year. This year, we had the prospect of exporting more, but there have been climatic conditions that have greatly harmed production and our expectations, "said Vial, who has been four times in China and says, he likes "the personal way Chinese manage relations." 


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