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Chile’s New Cherry Varieties Debut in China

March 02, 2024

Four new Chilean cherry varieties, characterized by a larger size alongside greater sweetness and firmness, made their debut in China this season. The new varieties are being positioned as a higher-quality alternative to existing early- and mid-season cultivars.

Areko, Nimba, Pacific Red and Sweet Aryana PA1UNIBO were supplied to China by 42 exporters, with ANA Chile providing assistance throughout the process, including with legal aspects relating to the commercial release of the new cultivars.

According to members of the industry, this season’s adverse weather hindered the ability of the new varieties to reach their full potential. Low spring temperatures had an impact on the Brix values, while rains affected the harvested volumes. Andres Valdivieso, commercial manager at ANA Chile, explained that cherry growers experienced heavy rains at the beginning of November that coincided with the harvesting of Nimba, Pacific Red and Sweet Aryana. This caused the output of the three cultivars to decrease by one-third compared with the volume expected for the first season. Exports of Sweet Aryana reached 73,021 kilograms, while those of Nimba and Pacific Red amounted to 18,903 and 2,768 kilograms, respectively. Areko, which is harvested later and was therefore less affected by the rainfall, saw a much higher yield, with 252,916 kilograms exported.

According to Valdivieso, the key goal for the new cultivars this season was to introduce them to Chinese consumers and allow them to make their market debut using only top-quality fruit. The crop volumes of the new varieties are expected to grow considerably next season as more trees start bearing fruit. At present, over 2,000 hectares of land in Chile are dedicated to the cultivation of Sweet Aryana, about 500 hectares are devoted to each of Nimba and Pacific Red, and approximately 250 hectares are used to grow Areko.

In terms of Chile’s traditional cherry varieties, total exports in January reached $1.555 billion, marking a historic high. This figure also represents a remarkable growth of 27.5% compared with the same period of last year. The boost in exports is attributed to both an increase in shipment volumes and a global rise in prices.

The majority of Chilean cherry shipments in January were destined for the Chinese market, which absorbed 93% of total exports to generate $1.447 billion in revenue, corresponding to a 30.8% year-on-year increase. Chilean cherry sales in China are typically driven by the Lunar New Year celebrations, with the fruit being extremely popular as a gift on account of its vibrant red color, which is regarded as a symbol of good fortune and prosperity.

Image: Unsplash

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