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Delivering cherries with a predictable cold chain

There are very few seasonal treats as special as perfectly fresh cherries from Chile. Over the past few decades, these delicious red fruits have become hugely important for the country. Not just for their colour and flavour, but for the value they provide to the national economy. As the world's largest producer of cherries, Chile ships hundreds of thousands of tons out of the country every year – amounting to almost USD 2 billion in annual export value.

Over 85% of these shipments making their way to China, just in time for the annual Chinese New Year celebrations. And while the bright red colour of the cherries is considered lucky in Chinese culture, luck plays no part in delivering your exports fresh and in peak condition. Join us at the Global Cherry Summit on 25 April in Santiago, Chile to find out how our end-to-end integrated cold chain solutions can help you ensure predictable seasonal cargo journeys from Chile to China every cherry season.

A custom-made solution for cherries
When exporting fresh fruits and vegetables such as cherries, the main goal for producers is to secure the greatest value from their harvest. This requires an end-to-end cold chain that addresses the unique product requirements of the fruit, which for cherries is their limited shelf-life, and effectively working within the fruit's short harvest season of late November to early February.

To ensure the best possible cold chain service, Maersk has developed a specific cold chain solution tailored to the needs of Chilean cherry producers – the Cherry Express service. The solution is designed to expedite the transport of cherry exports. It is a fully integrated, end-to-end logistics and transportation solution that is fast, well-planned and designed to deliver cherries to China and other global markets seamlessly.

"This last season, we consolidated our logistics services once again, delivering solutions at origin, maritime, air, and destination. We managed to be the only operators with depot, pre-stacking, and train solutions in the heart of the cherry-producing region, the fastest and most stable shipping service in the industry, and also unloading services at the destination that allowed us to reach the sales market in a few hours," says Benjamín Vicuña, Cold Chain Product Manager, West Coast South America at Maersk

For the Chilean cherries, the cold chain starts in Teno, the heart of Chile's cherry production region. The cherries are carefully handled as they move from orchards to local packing houses, where they are cleaned, sorted and packaged. Maersk reefer containers filled with cherry boxes are transported over land by rail or truck to the San Antonio port and loaded onto an Ocean Cherry Express vessel. The transit time is only 21 days to China – the fastest in the industry – with zero deviation in ETA.

The Fresh Pass team carefully pre-planned each link in the cold chain to ensure a seamless end-to-end journey. This specialised Maersk service for reefer customers features expert container logistics coordination, including booking and documentation for all parties to a perishables shipment.

All along the way, Maersk's RCM (Remote Container Management) digital monitoring, along with Captain Peter's data reporting, provides visibility to the conditions inside these reefers. Temperature, humidity, atmosphere and GPS location are tracked to determine product quality throughout the end-to-end process.

At their destination in China, the Maersk Customs team quickly clears the shipments, enabling them to move to the Port of Nansha, within 3 hours, for unloading and then off to market. These beautiful cherries will be an integral part of Chinese New Year celebrations and in the market to enjoy on other days too. Fresh, festive and delicious cherry festivities for all!

During the 2023-2024 season, approximately 19 million cardboard boxes, each with 5 kilos of cherries, in about 5000 reefer containers, were successfully transported in peak condition. Clearly indicating that Maersk's integrated, farm-to-table Cherry Express cold chain solution is the optimal, high-performance solution for next year's cherry harvest.

In addition to our Cherry Express solution, we also carried out a shipment via our Maersk Air Freight network this season – a milestone journey for us. Watch our full video for more details on the story.

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