A surge in new plantings and favourable weather conditions helped Chile’s cherry industry reach a new milestone as total exports broke through the 30m-carton barrier for the first time ever.
Cristián Tagle, president of the Chilean Cherry Committee, said the volume loaded to date already exceeds total shipments during the record 2014/15 campaign, in which almost 21.8m cartons, or 103,081 tonnes were exported.
“Until last week we had exported more than 27m cartons, but with the ship that was loaded last weekend this figure reached 30m cartons, which is equivalent to 150,000 tonnes of cherries,” Tagle said.
“We estimate that we will continue to supply the Chinese market until beyond the Chinese New Year on 16 February 16.”
The sharp rise in output is the result of new acreage, a switch to more productive varieties with a longer post-harvest life and the implementation of new technologies to improve orchard management and protection, together with what Tagle described as “the best weather conditions we’ve ever had, especially at the beginning of the campaign”.
The industry has pumped US$5m into its most ambitious marketing campaign to date in China in anticipation of the increase in volume.
Asoex president Ronald Bown said the aim of the campaign is to “increase consumption, especially before and after the Chinese New Year festival, and position the Cherries from Chile brand in the minds of consumers”.
The campaign includes tasting activities in more than 306 points of sales, as well as promotions in E-commerce sites, campaigns on China's main social network sites (WeChat and Weibo), as well as advertising in Metro stations, residential elevators, cell phone applications and wholesale markets, among others.
Of the volume of Chilean cherries exported to date, 89.1 per cent has gone to Asia, where China accounts for 94 per cent of shipments.
The US has received 4.8 per cent of the total exported, Latin America 3.2 per cent, Europe 2.4 per cent, Canada 0.4 per cent and the Middle East 0.1 per cent, Asoex said.