With shift to Asia, Chilean cherry exports explode

A delayed cherry season officially comes to a close in Chile, and export figures confirm that a shift in strategy has brought the industry into full bloom.  

The cherry season in Chile normally peaks in December, but it won’t be ending this year until May, with pats all around among the  industry’s trade directors as Chile cemented its position as the largest exporter of the stone fruit in the Southern Hemisphere.
It’s true, the weather was ideal for Chile’s cherry producers – as anyone can attest who has bought cherries in one of the thousands of street markets that dot this fruit-growing powerhouse, this season’s crop was even sweeter, darker and juicier than usual.
“The last two years have been particularly beneficial in terms of spring frosts, which allowed us to observe the potential of Chile’s current cherry,” Isabel Quiroz of iQonsulting told freshplaza.com. “And the attractiveness of the market made up for the exchange rate problems.”
A delayed crop was also beneficial to Chilean exporters, who capitalized on producing during the off-season for producers in key Northern Hemisphere markets like the United States, Europe and China.
There was also the official entrance of large cherry plantations into full production after maturing over the last decade.
But what can’t be disregarded is the significant increase in exports directly related to the decision by the industry’s trade bodies to focus on the Far East.
Overall growth in exports for the 2012 cherry season stood at 19.7 percent in respect to previous year, from 57,923 to 69,335 tons. An entire 59 percent of that increase went to Asia.
In 2012, Asian markets consumed 62 percent of the total export crop, compared to 46 percent in 2011.
On the other hand, exports to the United States fell from 35 percent of the total crop to 22 percent, while Europe accounted for 8 percent in 2012, down from 10 percent the previous season.
Chile’s Latin American neighbors continue to be a key market for its cherry crop, accounting for an additional 20 percent of exports.