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Chilean Cherry Industry Shines at 2023 Cherry Conference

December 20, 2023

On the morning of Dec. 16, the 2023 Cherry Conference officially commenced in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, China. It marks China’s first global conference centered on the cherry industry, drawing participation from more than 100 cherry importers, exporters and retailers from around the world, along with hundreds of cherry dealers from major domestic cities.

The conference coincides with the peak season for Chilean cherries, and the attention was drawn to the association Frutas de Chile (formerly known as the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association), which served as a co-organizer of the event. Iván Marambio, president of the association, delivered a remote video speech, while Charif Christian Carvajal, the association’s marketing director for Asia and Europe, presented on-site overviews of the Chilean cherry industry and the cherry market in China.

According to Carvajal, the cherry cultivation area in Chile has reached 61,559 hectares, but only 65% of them are currently in production. This implies that over the next four years, another 20,000 hectares of cherry orchards will be brought into production. Regarding exports, Chilean cherries have experienced explosive growth since the 2010/11 season. The average growth rate over the past seven years has even reached an impressive 29%, primarily due to the expanding Chinese market.

Data show that China is the world’s largest cherry importer, with an average annual growth rate of 20.4% over the past five years, reaching an astonishing 378,000 metric tons in imports during the 2022/23 season (April–March). Cherries alone accounted for approximately 19% of China’s total fruit import value in 2022. Due to Chile’s location in the Southern Hemisphere, the country is able to supply counter-seasonal fresh cherries to the Chinese market. In the 2022/23 season, a massive 97.8% of China’s cherry imports originated from Chile. Carvajal disclosed in his speech that the peak of Chilean cherry exports for this season is projected to be delayed by about two weeks compared to the previous season and is anticipated to occur in week 51.

Chile’s status as the leading cherry supplier to China is a culmination of collaborative efforts between the two countries to facilitate trade. Since the inaugural year in 2010 when Chilean cherries first entered the Chinese market, they have been enjoying the advantages offered by the China–Chile free trade agreement. The good performance of Chilean cherries in China is not solely attributed to their excellent quality but also stems from the longstanding and close cooperation between Frutas de Chile and various industry bodies and companies in China. Through collaboration with China Customs, port operators and major wholesale markets, Frutas de Chile has established a fresh supply chain that spans half the globe, connecting China with South America.

The success of Chilean cherries on the Chinese market not only benefits Chilean growers but also propels the advancement of China’s cherry industry in orchard management, variety innovation, supply chain upgrades and brand marketing. As Carvajal noted in his concluding remarks, he envisions the cherry industry further promoting the fruit, thereby fostering mutual benefits for growers in both countries.

Images: Jiaxing Haiguangxing Premium Fruit Market

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