Chilean cherry growers eye surging demand, prices in Chinese market
Published: Dec 30, 2021 07:41 PM
A farmer is showing cherries at Finca Chicauma, in Santiago, Chile on December 5, 2019.(Photo: Xinhua)

A farmer is showing cherries at Finca Chicauma, in Santiago, Chile on December 5, 2019.(Photo: Xinhua)

As the New Year's Day and Chinese New Year draw near, the price of Chilean cherries across the bumper Chinese market has surged as much as 75 percent this year, due to increasing shipping costs and the impact of weather, according to consumers and industry insiders on Thursday. 

"More than 10 fast vessels and cherry charters will arrive in China in the following days, allowing us to supply all the distribution channels in China. The main ports of entry will be Shenzhen and Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong, and East China's Shanghai," Gonzalo Matamala, the general manager of Chile-based cherry supplier Giddings Fruit's Asia and China region, told the Global Times.

"Both governments have worked hand on hand on strict protocols and we are very optimistic of this season," Matamala said, noting that rising shipping costs as well as the weather have lifted up prices, as the cherry harvest season this year was delayed for about 10 days, heightening the fruit shortage.

Prices of Chilean cherries have risen by about 75 percent this year compared with the same period last year, one Beijing local told the Global Times on Thursday.

Amid the surging demand and prices, growers and producers in Chile are working around the clock to meet the huge appetite of Chinese consumers, the main buyer of Chilean cherries. This year, the Chile cherry industry has estimated a 3-percent growth in the cherry supply amount, Matamala said. That's equal to 73 million boxes. 

Chile exported more than 320,000 tons of cherries to China during the 2020-21 cherry export season, an increase of 55 percent year-on-year, accounting for 91.4 percent of Chile's total cherry exports, the Xinhua News Agency reported. 

In addition to Chilean cherries, multiple categories of imported fruit - especially tropical crops, such as dragon fruit and pineapples - have also recorded price jumps. 

With the New Year's holidays and Chinese New Year holidays right around the corner, the domestic market demand for high-end imported fruits is spiking, Zhu Danpeng, a Chinese analyst focusing on the food industry, told the Global Times, stressing that the additional costs of customs clearance due to COVID-19 prevention and logistics had also contributed to higher prices.

Zhu said that fruit prices will return to normal after March, especially for tropical fruit, with local crops from growing regions, including South China's Hainan Province and Southwest China's Yunnan Province, boosting supply.