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Chilean Cherry China Charter Flights Added From Week 47

November 10, 2022

With the first batch of Chilean cherries arriving in Shanghai in late October, the 2022/23 Chilean cherry season in China is officially underway.

According to Zhao Yibin, air transportation department manager at Shanghai Huizhan International Trade Co., Ltd., commercial flights loaded with Chilean cherries are arriving every day, with a total daily quantity of 20 to 30 pallets. The supply of Chilean cherries in China will increase significantly when charter flights dedicated specifically to cherries start operating, which is currently expected in week 47 (week beginning Nov. 21).

Cherries in the air shipments that have arrived so far are characterized by a firm texture and dark red to purple color, with a sugar content in excess of 20 degrees Brix. Except for those pre-ordered by retailers, cherries intended for distribution at wholesale markets are selling out as soon as they arrive. According to Joy Wing Mau, a leading fruit importer and distributor in China, current shipment volumes of cherries are slightly lower than at this time last year. The quantity allocated to each retailer is therefore still relatively small—and retail sales brisk. At present, Joy Wing Mau’s retail channels for cherries include Olé, Freshippo (Hema Fresh), RT-Mart, JD.com, Tmall, Meituan and Walmart. Some retailers, including Sam’s Club and Metro, are still waiting for their first cherry deliveries due to the current limited supply.

Varieties in the first batches are early-season cultivars Glenred, Royal Dawn, Brooks and Santina. Next to come will be mid-season Bing, Lapins, Skeena and Kordia. These will be followed by Sweetheart and Regina, which are harvested last. Santina, Lapins and Regina are expected to account for the majority of Chile’s cherry exports this season.

In addition to charter air shipments, ocean shipments are expected to start departing Chile in mid-November. During Chilean cherry season, shipping lines adjust their order of ports of call in order to sail directly from Chile to China without making any stops along the way. According to the most recent schedule, the number of these faster “Cherry Express” routings has increased compared to previous years. Of the total of 50 vessels planned for Chilean cherry transport this season, 39 will be Cherry Express vessels, while 11 will be normal vessels. 

The first two ocean shipments, Seaspan Brightness and Msc Kanoko, will depart Chile on Nov. 16. Seaspan Brightness is expected to berth in Hong Kong on Dec. 9 and reach Shenzhen two days later, whereas Msc Kanoko is scheduled to arrive in Shanghai on Dec. 20. The departure of the third ship, Kota Lestari, is planned for Nov. 18, with its arrival in Shanghai and Ningbo on Dec. 11 and Dec. 12, respectively.

According to the projection of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX), this season Chile is expected to export 89,353,878 standardized 5kg cartons of fresh cherries worldwide, equivalent to 446,769 metric tons — up 25% by volume compared with the previous season.

Image: ASOEX

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