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China cherry market slowly recovering after Covid-19 detection on Chilean boxes

China cherry market slowly recovering after Covid-19 detection on Chilean boxes © Eurofresh Distribution

© Eurofresh Distribution


On January 22, Chinese health authorities found Covid-19 on boxes of imported Chilean cherries. Despite the very low risk of contamination from food or food packaging, the news went viral and strongly affected all cherry imports at the peak of the campaign for Chinese New Year celebrations. More than 200 posts were published on social media discouraging consumers from buying imported cherries. 

The market is now slowly recovering, with prices back to 70-80% of their previous levels, but the market damage is done: an estimated 70% reduction in demand for imported cherries, with more than 50% price reduction in the 2 last weeks. Chinese public health authorities have since made statements to reassure Chinese consumers, including Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the China Centre for Control and Prevention of Diseases. The case also hit New Zealand cherries hard at the heart of its campaign, mainly by air. 

This episode follows the Yiguo bankruptcy last October, partly due to the sale of infected frozen meat with Covid-19. Fear of Covid-19 is now not such a worry for Chinese consumers in general, but they are not accepting to pay the usual high prices for imported products by air-freight.

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Global cherry crop climbs slightly despite lower EU and US harvests

Global cherry crop climbs slightly despite lower EU and US harvests


The world’s 2020 cherry production is expected to forecast to rise 1.5% to 3.9 million tons, due to a rise in outpUS as the second largest exporter. Exports are further boosted by Turkey gaining market access to Chinut in Turkey, Chile, and China, which more than offset losses in the EU and US, according to USDA/FAS data. Increased supplies are expected to increase exports slightly to 503,000 tons, especially from Chile and Turkey.

EU production is expected to slip 4.7% to 703,000 due to spring frosts and heavy rains. Fruit quality is expected to be good, and exports are predicted to remain nearly unchanged at 8,000 tons.  Imports are expected to rise 13% to 60,000 tons, especially from Turkey.

Turkey’s cherry crop is estimated up 8% to 918,000 tons thanks to favourable growing conditions. This is the sixth consecutive year of growth, fuelled by producers transitioning to high density plantings of high-yield varieties. Turkey’s exports of 90,000 tons (especially to the EU and Russia), mean that it overtakes the a and South Korea in 2019.

China’s production is forecast up 7% to 450,000 tons, continuing the recent growth trend. Imports are expected to drop 4% to 220,000 tons, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The US crop is estimated to fall 9.5% to 383,000, due to severe frosts in Washington more than offsetting gains in California and Oregon. The smaller crop is expected to reduce exports 17% to 70,000 tons. Imports are up slightly to 12,000 tons, mainly from Chile.



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New investments in New Zealand’s cherry sector

New investments in New Zealand’s cherry sector


New Zealand’s cherry industry has demonstrated strong long-term growth, driven by the country’s ideal climate and proximity to Asia. Now Deep Creek Fruits NZ is investing in two cherry orchard projects (Mt. Pisa and Lindis River) in Central Otago. Both projects are to be managed by leading New Zealand horticultural consultant Hortinvest. 

Speaking to GlobalAg Investing, Sharon Kirk, director of Deep Creek Fruits and marketing and sales manager of Hortinvest, said that Summerfruit NZ predicts a 40% dollar value growth in New Zealand cherry exports over the next 20 years. “New Zealand’s cherry industry has demonstrated strong long-term growth, driven by our key competitive advantages such as the ideal climate and conditions, proximity to, and free trade agreements with markets in Asia. New Zealand’s reputation for producing premium quality cherries, perceived globally as a luxury product, enables it to receive the highest price per to in global markets,” said Kirk. “As a Southern Hemisphere cherry producer, the New Zealand industry is not competing with produce from the Northern Hemisphere.”

The global fresh cherry market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% between 2017 and 2022 to reach a value of US$5.2 billion, according to research conducted by Transparency Market Research (TMR).

Photo: Summerfruit NZ

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Bumper cherry crop expected for Chile

Bumper cherry crop expected for Chile © Réussir Fruits et Légumes
© Réussir Fruits et Légumes


Chile’s 2020/21 cherry crop year is projected to increase by 12.1% to 286,000 tons, due to favourable climatic conditions and increasing planted area. The larger harvest is expected to drive up exports by 13% to 259,000 tons, according to USDA/FAS data. Planted area expands steadily at a 10% annual growth rate, with the cherry planted area forecast to reach 42,200 hectares in 2020/21. New cherry orchards increase productivity every year, giving Chile a high productive potential, which according to experts may reach over 345,000 tons by 2023/24. According to the Chilean Plant Nurseries Association (as reported by  the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association ASOEX), more than 5.6 million cherry plants were sold in 2019 and of those, more than 80% correspond to the varieties Regina, Santina, and Lapins. Cherry growers have opted for harvesting early in the season (October-November) expecting to obtain better prices in China when the supply is lower. 

In 2019/20, cherry exports reached a record 228,923 tons, up 27.2% on 2018/19. Export value increased by 43% to US$1.2 billion. China is firmly Chile´s top market for cherries, accounting for 90% of total export volume, while the United States is the second top market. However, Chilean cherry exports to the United States account for only 2% of total Chilean fresh cherry exports, and shipments to the US decreased by 4.55% in 2019/20. In early February, during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 3,000 containers of Chilean cherries were on their way or arriving in China, specifically with late harvest cherry varieties. Chilean exporters stated that some of the sea ships were delayed and some shipments were stuck at Chinese ports, which carried a high risk of losing those exports considering cherries are a perishable product.  However, shipments were eventually released and managed to arrive at the Chinese market. Despite the difficulties and delays, cherry export volume to China increased by 31.62% in 2019/20 over 2018/19. Chilean cherry exporters expect Chinese demand will continue to expand, offering new market opportunities for Chilean cherries in China’s inner cities. 

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Stemilt Cherries exported from the US to India find popularity among Indian consumers

Stemilt Cherries exported from the US to India find popularity among Indian consumers

IG International has received an outstanding response for the export of Stemilt cherries from Wenatchee in Washington, the United States to India. The venture has been a success and has induced a taste and liking among Indian consumers for the fruits that had earlier been considered exotic. The sales have exceeded the expectation of all involved parties and the demand for Stemilt cherries is higher in Indian markets.

Before the finalization of the program, IG International saw an element of risk into it, and forecasting the sales was a matter of uncertainty. One of the driving factors for going ahead with the venture was the higher inclination that Indian consumers are showing towards fruits.

Stemilt Cherries: An immunity booster

Consumption of fruits is frequently associated with higher immunity and weight management. The demand of fruits has been higher across the country through the times of lockdown, wherein consumers were extra cautious regarding the health and well-being of their family and themselves.

Access to rarer varieties of fruits, such as Stemilt cherries induces variety for consumers’ platters. Having some sort of variety among fruits can be especially useful for consumers who do not have much of a taste for certain fruits.

Similarly, an advantage that comes with the consumption of Stemilt cherries is that it is easier to make them a part of baked foods, such as cakes and biscuits, and they can be used for pastries as well.

There are essentially numerous ways in which Stemilt Cherries can be a part of the diet for one’s family and oneself. One can consume them as a part of salads, milkshakes, and corn flakes.

IG International: Among the top importers of fresh produce in India

IG International is a conglomerate of 14 companies and has 50 years of experience behind them. The brand has proved its mettle in the arena of the import of fresh produce to India. It is a brand synonymous with quality and is dedicated to ensuring that the consumers get access only to the best quality and fresh produce. They procure produce from 22 countries and feature a procurement capacity for 32 fruits. This makes them among the most reliable corporate vendors across India.

IG International currently handles fresh fruits in volumes of 3500 – 4000 sq feet3 refrigerated containers. They have 28 wholesale outlets across India for the distribution of the products.

Beyond imports, IG International is a specialist in third-party logistics and temperature-controlled warehousing. They have facilities in Mumbai, Amravati, Bangalore, Chennai, Jaipur, Chandigarh and Theog. Their fleet includes 50 refrigerated trucks and 50 refrigerated containers.

Stemilt cherries find numerous takers in the hospitality industry

A section of consumers for Stemilt cherries is from the hospitality industry. Sweet taste and distinctive colors of Stemilt cherries deliver a strong branding proposition for numerous high profile bakers. They are coming up with new recipes for using Stemilt cherries for their sweet and savory dishes. The bakers are also recreating the much loved age-old western recipes that use Stemilt cherries to best suit the preferences of Indian consumers. The success of the venture for import of Stemilt cherries to India leads us to believe that we will be using the product more frequently over the days to come, at bakeries, fruit marts, and outdoor diners.

Stemilt cherries are a chef’s delight

Professional chefs have been delighted to use Stemilt cherries for their recipes. Budding chefs at home have been equally responding to the variety, primarily because of the number of dishes that can be created using the cherries.

IG International has proactively marketed the product over social media, highlighting its nutritional value, immunity-boosting properties, and great taste.

Several top chefs across India, such as Chef Ajay Chopra and Chef Vicky Ratnani have collaborated with IG international and have used moon cherries from Stemilt for their recipes. This is an inspiration for all exotic food lovers to try out the cherries and create exquisite desserts and snacks using them. This lets consumers experience the taste of American meals right from the comfort of their home back in India.

The two chefs have come up with some exciting dishes using Stemilt cherries, which can be accessed over Instagram handles and hashtags such as #WhoIsTheCherryChief, @chefajaychopra, and @vickythechef.

A Mystery Box Challenge

IG Fruits, a subsidy of IG International has been creating engaging posts for the viewers, highlighting Stemilt cherries. They came up with the mystery box challenge over, wherein the ingredients of a dish made using Stemilt cherries were shown over a post, and the viewers were asked to guess the name of the dish. Winners were announced on 27th August and won gift hampers from IG Fruits.

In a similar challenge, the chefs have posted some nice recipes with images over Instagram. When viewers try out the recipe and send its images in response to the post, they stand to win gift hampers from IG fruits. Viewers are further offered a discount from IG fruits, to buy Stemilt cherries for the recipe.

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Japan’s cherry crop rebounds

Japan’s cherry crop rebounds


Japan’s 2020/21 cherry crop is expected to recover from a difficult 2019/20 season, but unfavourable weather conditions are set to lead to a smaller peach harvest, according to FAS/Tokyo.  In 2019/20, Japan imported 4,152 tons of fresh cherries, worth US$40 million. The United States supplied 95.3% of all Japan’s cherry imports. Japan’s imports of sweet cherries are projected to increase by 1% to 4,200 tons from 2019/20 levels due to steady consumption and a recently reduced tariff for sweet cherries. Japan does not import sour cherries, and its cherry exports are negligible (approximately 1 ton).

Source: FAS/Tokyo

Japan imports no peaches and the US is the sole exporter of fresh nectarines to Japan. In 2019/20, Japan imported 186 tons of US nectarines. In light of the small shipping volumes and higher freight charges due to COVID-19-related flight reductions, FAS/Tokyo forecasts Japan’s 2020/21 imports to decrease by 14% to 160 tons.

In line with Japan’s 2014 national policy, Japan Revitalization Strategy, to increase agricultural exports to 1 trillion yen (approximately US$10 billion) by 2020, Japan has been gradually increasing fresh peach exports. Due to the higher price for Japanese peaches in foreign markets compared to Japan, Japan’s peach exports continued to increase even when peach production took a downturn in 2019/20.  In 2019/20, Japan exported 1,780 tons of peaches, worth about US$17 million. The main markets were Hong Kong (72.2%)and Taiwan (20.4%). FAS/Tokyo forecasts export volume to decrease by 15.7% to 1,500 tons in 2020/21 due to political instability in Hong Kong and high air freight charges due to COVID-19.


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First Turkish cherries land in South Korea

First Turkish cherries land in South Korea


With the Turkish cherry season drawing to a close, the country has successfully shipped its first cherries to South Korea. Exporter Ana Fruit reported the successful arrival of its first commercial batch of cherries to South Korea on the shelves of Lotte Mart and other major retailers.

Speaking to Fruitnet, Ana Fruit’s marketing and sales manager, Yahya Erdogan, said, “We processed our first commercial shipment on 25 July after a sample shipment on 18 July. The fruit is now selling on retail shelves in Korea and the arrival of Turkish cherries has attracted coverage from local media. The key challenge we faced supplying Korea this year was delays with bringing Korean inspectors over to Turkey due to Covid-19. We’ve only been able to start shipping in the last weeks of the season due to uncertainty over when the inspectors could get here. We airfreight our cherries directly to Seoul but we also faced some capacity constraints following the decrease in services because of the pandemic.”

Turkish cherries will be competing alongside US cherries. However, with US shipments dropping in 2019, South Korea’s cherry imports fell 22% in 2019/20, totalling 14,873 tons, according to ITC Trademap data. The main variety of Turkish cherry that is exported is the Ziraat 0900, also known as Turkish Napoleon, which meets the global demand for good firmness and texture.
Turkey is the world’s third largest cherry exporter after Chile and the US. In the 2019/20 campaign, the country shipped 80,543 tons worth US$182 million. Currently, most of the country’s cherries are exported to Russia, Europe and Iraq. Asia received around 2,500 tons in 2019/20, with China, Hong Kong and Singapore the major markets.


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Giuliano’s campaign gets off to an early start and features Staccato® late cherry 

Giuliano’s campaign gets off to an early start and features Staccato® late cherry 

Giuliano has launched Staccato®, a new late cherry that extends the production calendar until the end of July. Meanwhile, its 2020 campaign has got off to an early start. “The 2020 campaign is 10-15 days early. Our calendar begins with the traditional Bigarreaux, the first variety to be harvested in our area, then continues with Giorgia, the jewel of the intermediate phase, followed by the Ferrovia variety, the most appreciated and sold cherry, which takes over for a month of the campaign. Finally, it ends with Sweetheart and Staccato®, the new variety that we have planted in Puglia and for which we have exclusive rights in Italy,” said owner Nicola Giuliano. Each year, Giuliano Puglia Fruit handles about 4,500 tons of cherries, all exclusively of Apulian origin. Thanks to its processing plant, the largest in Europe and equipped with the latest generation UNITEC technologies, the firm is able to guarantee retailers a constant supply of fresh and high-quality products. The fruit is destined largely for Italian supermarkets and abroad, especially in Austria and Germany.


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Uzbekistan’s stone fruit exports weather pandemic

Uzbekistan’s stone fruit exports weather pandemic


Uzbekistan is emerging as a key exporter of stone fruit. As of June 1, the central Asian country had exported 11,192 tons of apricots (worth US$10.9 million), according to the State Statistics Committee. The main markets are Kazakhstan (5,984 tons), Russia (3,600 tons) and Kyrgyzstan (1,210 tons). Meanwhile, Uzbekistan has also increased its exports of sweet cherries. Between January and April 2020, the country shipped 23,500 tons (US$48 million) of the fruit to 11 countries. These results are particularly impressive given the current pandemic. The largest markets for its sweet cherries are Kazakhstan (12,400 tons), Russia (6,700 tons), and Kyrgyzstan (4,100 tons), as well as South Korea, China, Poland, UAE, Belarus, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, and Thailand.


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Chilean cherries played a prominent part in the recent Chinese New Year celebrations, as red is the traditional colour of the festival and the peak sales period for Chilean cherries in China. The Cherry Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) teamed up with food delivery service to hold the Harvest Your Red Moment and Deliver Happiness Together 2020 Chilean Cherry x Spring Shopping Festival Launch Ceremony. 

To satisfy the high consumer demand for Chilean cherries, has added Cherries from Chile to the “100-Million Yuan Subsidy” programme within its 2020 Spring Shopping Festival. The programme works together with sellers on the platform to subsidise sales of Chilean cherries. The platform guarantees fast delivery of the fresh fruit.

Charif Christian Carvajal, ASOEX’s Europe and Asia marketing director, said, “We hope that through our cooperation with, more consumers in China will be able to enjoy fresh, high-quality Cherries from Chile as part of their New Year celebrations and even onwards towards mid-February.”

Juan José Vidal Wood, Trade Commissioner at the Shanghai office of ProChile, said, “China is the primary market for exports of Cherries from Chile and cherries are an important component in the two countries’ flourishing economic relationship. Cooperation with will have a positive impact on the consumption and promotion of Chilean cherries in China.”