Inner packaging of imported cherries tested positive for COVID-19 in E China Jiangsu
Published: Jan 22, 2021 04:02 PM

Chilean cherries Photo: IC

Inner packaging of imported cherries tested positive for COVID-19 in E China Jiangsu

Inner packaging of a batch of imported cherries was found to be COVID-19 positive in Wuxi, East China's Jiangsu Province. It is not yet clear what the source country is, but all unsold cherries from the same batch have been collected and are ready for destruction, local authorities told the Global Times on Friday. 

The cherries were produced on December 18, 2020, and have been sold to customers in three districts in Wuxi, the local COVID-19 prevention group told the Global Times. 

A total of 199 samples from the related environment, objects and personnel have been tested, all returning negative results, according to a statement released by the COVID-19 prevention team in Liangxi, Wuxi on Friday. 

Imported cherries have become more popular this year among Chinese consumers as prices have sunk 20 percent, resulting from an oversupply, and exporters are eyeing a rebound in Chinese consumption amid COVID-19.

The average price on major e-commerce fresh food platforms has dropped to less than 80 yuan ($12) per kilo in the first weeks of January, down from 120 yuan per kilo, a 34 percent drop, according to media reports.

Some customers are concerned that the positive results from cherries could pose a higher risk of COVID-19 infection, and said they would prefer to wait for some time before purchasing imported cherries again. 

ABeijing resident surnamed Tu told the Global Times that she has been buying significantly more imported cherries for family and friends this year because of their reduced price, but she has also been extra careful with potential COVID-19 risks when buying imported food. 

"I always buy them from big, higher-end supermarket chains, and would look for negative COVID-19 test results attached to them," Tu said.

Tu said the news of positive results from cherries is "putting her off" from buying cherries in the near future, and she will probably not buy them again this season. 

China's primary sources of imported cherries include Chile and Australia. Chile saw a bumper harvest in the 2020-2021 season, with the expected export volume increasing by 30 percent, and about 500,000 tons of cherries will arrive in the Chinese market, according to the Chilean Embassy in China.

According to the forecast of the Chilean Cherry Association, 90 percent of Chilean cherries harvested in the 2020-2021 season will be sold to the Chinese market. Australia exported 1,487 tons of cherries to China in 2019, a drop of 7 percent year-on-year from the 2018 season. 

Global Times