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New Plum Variety Highlights Development of Chilean Stone Fruit in China

April 05, 2021

Dalian Yidu Group will soon stage the China debut of a new plum variety developed by the University of Chile that possesses a variety of attributes making it ideal for the China market. The news of this home-grown variety is evidence of the Chilean stone fruit industry’s continuing development. In general, despite weather-related challenges this season, retailers remain optimistic regarding the prospects for Chilean plums and nectarines in the China market and are continuing to trial new varieties, according to interviews conducted by Produce Report.

The shipment of two containers of the new Sweet Pekeetah variety of plum imported by Dalian Yidu is expected to arrive to port on April 9. Sweet Pekeetah, a type of Asian plum (Prunus salicina), is the result of a decade-long breeding program by the Laboratory of Genetic Improvement and Fruit Quality of the Faculty of Agronomic Sciences at the University of Chile. According to materials published by the university, Sweet Pekeetah “is a variety with unique attributes, as extremely late in blooming and ripening. Blooming time of ‘Sweet Pekeetah’ is contemporary to some European plums … which is three to four weeks after the majority of known Asian plum varieties.”

The later ripening time means less overlap with other plums on the market, which is not the only selling point of this variety. According to Dalian Yidu and the University of Chile, other characteristics that make Sweet Pekeetah highly suitable for transporting to and selling in China include the following:

  • Large diameter, with an average weight of 140 grams per fruit, which is significantly greater than other Asian plum varieties on the market
  • Crisp texture, which is rare among plum varieties
  • High sweetness, with a sugar content at least 33% higher than other plum varieties commonly seen on the China market
  • Low acidity in the whole fruit and less bitter flavor in the skin
  • A small pit/stone
  • High storability, with strong quality preservation even after 60 days or more in cold storage
  • Distinctive skin coloration combining purple and green

Dalian Yidu expects this limited volume of Sweet Pekeetah plums to be available in select wholesale markets and online and offline channels.

For other stone fruits from Chile, it is no secret in the industry that the 2020/21 season has been associated with adverse weather-related challenges such as decreased volume and varying quality. However, during interviews with retailers of Chilean stone fruits, some bright spots emerged.

For example, Chilean sugar plums have continued to perform steadily across several retailers, attracting plenty of fans among Chinese consumers and seemingly having found more market stability than the previous season in terms of price and volume.

Retailer Frutacloud also reported good results this season with general plum varieties from Chile such as Sweet Mary and Candy Red and was able to sell out those Chilean nectarines that arrived with strong quality. Frutacloud also pointed out that notable newer plum varieties appearing on the market in China include Red Jack and Red Rose, while newer nectarine varieties include Sweet Giant and Honey Diva.

Pagoda reported that this season it mostly carried Chilean sugar plums and a few other varieties of Chilean plums, while it was one of several retailers interviewed that faced shortages of Chilean nectarines this season due to weather-related decreases in volume.

Given the right characteristics, future domestically bred plum varieties from Chile should find a welcome market in China. As one representative from Fruitday put it, “we are hoping for a breakthrough with some new hybrid plum varieties coming out of Chile.”


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