The Chilean cherry sector has reached a milestone as an industry – overtaking the historic cherry export limit of 20 million cartons – by shipping more than 30 million cartons during the current 2017-18 season; a figure that is expected to keep rising as exports continue.
“Up until last week we had reached more than 27 million cartons exported, but with the shipment that went out at the weekend, the industry has now overtaken 30 million cartons, the equivalent of 150,000 tonnes of cherries,” announced Cristian Tagle, President of the Cherry Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX).
According to Tagle, the volume reached to date has now surpassed the record 2014-15 campaign, when Chile exported over 21.7 million cartons or 103,081 tonnes of cherries.
“We estimate that Chilean cherries will continue to supply the Chinese market past Chinese New Year, which takes place on 16 February,” he said.
Tagle noted that the record exports have only been possible thanks to growers receiving favourable climatic conditions, particularly at the start of the season. However, he added that the achievement was also the result of hard work by producers and exporters, which had led to a greater planted area and an emphasis on better-tasting, more productive varieties, as well as the implementation of technologies that have enabled improved management and care of orchards.
ASOEX President Ronald Bown commented: “As we reach the record volume that we forecast, we have planned an important and intensive promotional campaign. The good news is we are ready and investing to boost consumption of these high volumes that are now a reality, particularly through promotional actions in China, which is the principle market for Chilean cherries.”
Bown said the promotional campaign would feature a US$5 million public-private investment from ASOEX Cherry Committee members and official export promotional body ProChile with a focus on actions in China. “We are seeking to increase consumption of Chilean cherries, especially before and after the Chinese New Year festivities, while also positioning the ‘Cherries from Chile’ brand in the minds of consumers,” he explained.
The China promotional campaign will feature a mix of activities directed at the end consumer, including point-of-sale product tastings, promotions on E-commerce sites, and campaigns on China’s principal social media networks, WeChat and Weibo. As well as this, advertising is being placed in Metro stations, residential lifts, mobile phone applications, and wholesale markets, among other avenues.
Of the 150,000 tonnes of Chilean cherries exported to date, some 89.1% was shipped to Asia, with China accounting for 94% of this total. In terms of other export destinations, the US received 4.8% of the total volume, followed by Europe (2.4%), Canada (0.4%) and the Middle East (0.1%).