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Cherries from Chile Kicks off 2018/19 Season Promotional Campaign
The Chilean Cherry Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) today held two events at Shanghai supermarkets that signaled the start of its major promotional efforts for Chilean cherries in China during the 2018/19 season, which runs from November through February. The events coincided with the "Double 12" shopping holiday that takes place annually in China on December 12th (12.12).
The Chilean Cherry Committee, which promotes under the Cherries from Chile banner, held two Chilean cherry season launch celebrations: one in the morning at the Zhabei branch of RT-Mart, and one in the afternoon at the Changyang branch of Auchan supermarket. The events featured free samples of this season's Chilean cherries, ribbon-cutting ceremonies and mascots for customers to take photos with.
Both RT-Mart and Auchan's China stores are operated by Sun Art Retail Group of Taiwan, of which Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba acquired a 36% stake last November in exchange for investment of roughly $2.8 billion.
Since the middle of this year, RT-Mart has been upgrading 400 of its stores to integrate capabilities for online ordering and home delivery, with technological assistance from Alibaba, which operates its own chain of small-format, tech-heavy and delivery-focused markets called Hema.
Therefore, there was an extra dimension the Double 12 discount price of RMB 27.9 ($4) per 300g package of Chilean cherries that RT-Mart was offering. If customers living within a few kilometers of an RT-Mart store in Shanghai did not have time to come to the store to take advantage of the promotion, they could simply head to the Taoxianda fresh produce channel of Alibaba's ubiquitous Taobao ecommerce app, and order the cherries to be delivered to their home within 60 minutes.
Mr. ZHANG Jianjie, Vice General Manager, Fresh Food Division, RT-Mart speaking at the morning event said this new option of home delivery allowed RT-Mart to give customers a significantly higher degree of service. He added that in eastern China alone, RT-Mart sells about 30 million RMB ($4.4 million) worth of Chilean cherries every year.
Florian Bernet, Fresh Produce Director for Auchan Retail China said Auchan sold 160 tons of Chilean cherries in China during the 2016/17 season. In 2017/18 the volume increased to 400 tons, up 160% year-on-year. Bernet expects the volume would rise yet again this season. As with RT-Mart, customers can also order cherries and other groceries from nearby Auchan outlets using Taobao's Taoxianda channel, which is expected to contribute to the sales growth.
Chile is the dominant counter-seasonal supplier of cherries to China, which is also its top customer for cherries. According to figures presented at the RT-Mart launch celebration by Ignacio Concha, Consul General of Chile in Shanghai and Charif Christian Carvajal, Marketing Director, Europe and Asia, for ASOEX, Chile exported 160,000 tons of fresh cherries to China in the 2017/18 season, among a total of 400,000 tons of fresh fruit. Chile expects to again ship a similar volume of cherries to China this season.
"The sweet juice, the flavor, the intense color of Chilean cherries make them unique and extremely popular among Chinese consumers, especially during Christmas time and Chinese New Year," said Concha.
According to Carvajal of ASOEX, this season "we are going to be actively promoting the consumption of our fresh delicious cherries to the Chinese consumer. Thanks to the initiative of the Chilean Cherry Committee, along with ProChile and the Chilean Embassy, Chile is actively investing in an aggressive promotional campaign to promote our products in more than 61 different cities across China."
This year, Cherries from Chile is promoting cherries in China under the theme of "red moments," a tagline for which the Chinese version (幸福正当红) is quite a bit more rich and layered than the English—encompassing ideas of the warmth of the holiday season and the positive cultural associations of the color red.
"We have the objective of positioning our Chilean cherries as part of every red moment—those times when you share with your colleagues, friends and family a special moment, a red one, with Chilean cherries," said Carvajal.
"Red moments" with Chilean cherries are shaping up to be particularly sweet for the 2018/19 season: Owen Ou, General Manager of import company Riverking, which supplies cherries to several large supermarket chains in China including RT-Mart and Auchan, told Produce Report that the quality of the cherries arriving from Chile this season is particularly high, with consistently sweet and firm fruit coming in one shipment after the other.
Images credit: MZMC
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