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Terrible week for Chilean cherries

Terrible week for Chilean cherries
Photo: Garce Fruit Chile

Demand for Chilean cherries has recovered after suffering severe price cuts. In mid-January, with about three weeks to go before the Chinese New Year, the whole industry had expected high sales and prices. However, on January 22, news spread on the internet that the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention had found a positive nucleic acid test for Covid-19 on the inner surface of an imported cherimoya fruit during routine monitoring of imported food.

The incident caused a shock in the Wuxi market. Local dealers involved in the incident had their goods detained and their personnel isolated. Other dealers returned goods to suppliers in Shanghai market.

On Saturday, the news was widely relayed on social media and also reported on China’s central television networks. Although it was clearly pointed out that there was only one positive case, and the results of 199 tests were all negative, indicating that consumers did not need to panic, consumers continued to link cherries to the positive result, which caused consumer panic and led to a slump in sales.

Nearby Shijiazhuang also saw positive cases during inspections, and a document was issued banning the consumption of imported fruits, which further expanded the panic. As a result, Guangzhou, Shanghai and other first-line markets had no market or volumes, and the pessimism spread throughout the country.

For a time, cherries switched from being a favourite fruit to a virus carrier in the public’s minds, which left the whole industry in an unprecedented embarrassing situation. With sales of cherries halted in Guangzhou, Shanghai and other primary markets, this led to a blockage throughout the industry.

Liu Xiang, a marketing and operations manager, said that the incident had led to a 70% drop in weekly shipments of his company, mainly because the secondary market and channels did not dare to stock up. Foodview said that the incident had also seriously damaged the cherry industry in New Zealand. Unlike Chilean cherry exporters, New Zealand exporters always perform immediate purchases, immediate packaging and immediate transportation, as their main selling points. When there is a large-scale blockage in the market, many goods are lost.

The industry has often been worried about the occurrence of similar incidents, but did not expect such a rapid spread or heavy impact. Chile’s cherry exporters association held a meeting with importers and exporters overnight to discuss coping strategies. The conclusion is that we must reverse the direction of public opinion, immediately carry out publicity and education for consumers, and perform a great deal of online public relations work. Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of China’s Centre for Disease Control and prevention, Zhang Wenhong, spokesman of Shanghai Xinguan epidemic prevention, and CCTV all made public comments on the internet to educate consumers.

When the cherry market was stagnant, a wholesaler in Jiaxing launched the first shot at cherry sales by selling fruit at ultra-low prices and marking the price clearly. Pictures were spread widely across the internet. The cherry price plunge became a hot search term, which triggered a rush to buy.

Under the dual influence of ultra-low prices and the shift in public opinion, the market gradually recovered. As of Thursday, the price recovered to 70%-80% of the previous level. On Friday, due to the rapid price rise, buyers appeared to be in a wait-and-see mood, and sales began to slow down. But what we can see is that despite consumers’ doubts about cherries, as long as prices are low enough, they can still attract enough consumers. So there should be no problem selling out of cherries this year. It’s just a matter of price.

Over the past week, consumers have gone from panic to doubt, and then to reassured, while the industry has gone from despair to hope, and then to caution, just as in a turbulent stock market

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Ele.me ensures Chilean cherries are at heart of Chinese New Year Celebrations

Ele.me ensures Chilean cherries are at heart of Chinese New Year Celebrations

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 Ele.me to hold the Harvest Your Red Moment and Deliver Happiness Together 2020 Chilean Cherry x Ele.me Spring Shopping Festival Launch Ceremony. 

To satisfy the high consumer demand for Chilean cherries, Ele.me 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 Ele.me platform to subsidise sales of Chilean cherries. The Ele.me 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 Ele.me, 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 Ele.me will have a positive impact on the consumption and promotion of Chilean cherries in China.”

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31% increase in Chilean blueberries shipped to Asia this season

31% increase in Chilean blueberries shipped to Asia this season, credit. Alexandra Sautois, Eurofresh Distribution
© Alexandra Sautois, Eurofresh Distribution

 

Chile has recorded significant growth in its shipments of blueberries to the Far East, this season, with volumes up 31% from the previous campaign, according to data published by Asoex. The Asian market now accounts for 18% of the total export volume. North America has received 48% of the volumes of Chilean blueberries so far this season, 7% down on last season’s volumes. Europe has received 33% of shipments, with a growth of 3%.

Meanwhile, shipments of organic blueberries continue with the upward trend. During week 02, 1,457 tons were exported, accumulating to date 7,589 tons, 37% more than the previous season. North America continues to be the main destination with 73% of shipments, while Europe is second in importance, with 21% participation.

The total cumulative volume of fruit produced had reached 66,742 tons by Week 1 in the present campaign, practically the same level as at the same point in the 2018/19 campaign. However, despite the similarity in volume, harvest dynamics are very different. Early and mid-season varieties began the campaign earlier, which in some cases resulted in lower volumes due to shorter crops and lighter fruits. This has been offset by the increase in the volumes of later varieties from the central zone and the increase in surface area of ​​the southern zone, which explain part of the volume recorded during week 02. If weather conditions remain favourable, the increase in production area and the renewed varieties should yield 5,000 tons more than last season, reaching 115,000 tons projected for this campaign.