Chinese market drives historic sales for Chilean cherries despite COVID-19 impact

Updated: June 28, 2020 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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Despite the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, Chilean cherries have achieved record sales figures during the 2019-2020 season, thanks to the buying power of its key consumer -- China.

Jorge Valenzuela, president of the Federation of Chilean Fruit Producers known as Fedefruta, told Xinhua that in the past season, 228,548 tons of cherries were exported, 27 percent more than in 2018-2019 season, reaching a "historical record" that generated a revenue of around 1.4 billion U.S. dollars.

"We are very proud of our product and the commitment that farmers have to the development of the cherry and its quality," he said.

Valenzuela said that the past Chilean cherry season started in October, and almost 85 percent arrived in China before the Chinese Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, which fell on Jan. 25.

However, during the weeks when China was hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, there was a drop in price, fewer customers, and a slowdown in moving the fruit from ports to grocery store shelves.

"Luckily, it was between 12 and 20 percent of the fruit, so it did not affect the large number," said Valenzuela.

Valenzuela said that according to official figures, Chile has planted more than 38,000 hectares of the fruit, and the total output of cherries would reach 600,000 tons in the coming years, which "would not be surprising."

China has "much more development potential" and they hope to enter China's inner cities in the coming years, he added.

Fedefruta on Wednesday held an online seminar titled "International Cherry and Blueberry Market: Lessons for Chile from the 2019-2020 Season." Market analysts attending the seminar exchanged views on cherry exports.

As the most exported fruit in Chile, cherries have already surpassed the 1-billion-dollar export mark, a figure which has been maintained over the last three seasons and has been on the rise, said Gonzalo Salinas, market analyst of consulting company iQonsulting.

Saying that almost 91 percent of Chilean cherries are destined for China, he added that the fruit has adapted to the Chinese market, "paving the way for the growth of further demand."

Furthermore, Chilean companies are investing in facilities, storage, and other logistical areas for receival and distribution of products in their destination countries, he added. 

Editor: Ting Liu