Imported cherry prices plunge 90% due to COVID-19 concern
Published: Jan 27, 2021 03:23 PM

Chilean cherries Photo: IC

Imported cherry price has plunged to as low as 16 yuan ($2.43) per kilogram in East China's Zhejiang Province as demand plummeted over mounting consumer worries after samples of imported cherries were found to be COVID-19 positive last week.

A local fruit market in Jiaxing, East China's Zhejiang Province was selling imported cherries for 16 yuan per kilo compared with 160 yuan per kilo which has been rough price historically, local media reported.

The frantic selling happened as dealers race to clear stock before they spoil, a Shanghai-based cherry wholesaler surnamed Wang told the Global Times on Wednesday, adding that the cherries can only be preserved for days under normal temperature.

"If they can't sell it they have to dump it," Wang said.

He said that the normal wholesale price on Shanghai market is at 60 yuan per kilo, down 30 percent from the previous years and it is still hard to sell.

"Fewer people are eating imported cherries after coronavirus was identified on the surface of some samples. The cherries are selling slow mainly affected by fear about. I will keep the stock for a maximum of two days," Wang said.

At present, the impact on sales is large, another fruit dealer based in South China's Guangdong Province told the Global Times.

"Since the coronavirus has been detected on the imported cherries last Friday we saw our sales drop by half," he said.

To cope with sluggish demand and promote sales, vendors from online takeout platform Eleme have upgraded the size of packaging to sell by kilos rather than by grams, according to a statement sent by Eleme to the Global Times on Wednesday. 

At the same time, the platform also launched a special page to support cherry vendors with certificates. 

"It has become the new normal for cherries sold on the platform to come with nucleic acid testing results and it costs less than 200 yuan to buy five kilos on the platform on average," the statement said.

Addressing the market concern, the Chilean Cherry Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX), a major source of imported cherries in Chinese market, reiterated that to date, the Chilean Embassy in China has not received any official notification from Chinese authorities confirming any detection of coronavirus on cherries.  

"The Chilean fruit industry has adopted a series of strict protocols throughout the production and export process, including maintaining safe social distance, wearing masks, and strengthening good hygiene practices in the workplace, at home, and in public transportation," said the association in a statement sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.

Medical experts also stated that there is no need to panic when it comes to imported fruits as long as they are thoroughly washed before being consumed.

Positive COVID-19 result on imported foods does not necessarily mean that they are infectious. It depends on the amount of viral load and whether the contaminated virus is active, Feng Zijian, deputy director of China Center for Disease Control and prevention said in an interview.