Chile’s cherry export season has drawn to a close with shipments up 13.3 per cent to 94,869 tonnes compared to the season prior.
That’s according to the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (Asoex) president, Ronald Bown Fernandez, who said the increase was a positive finish to the season.
The volume was lower than the potential export crop of 120,000 tonnes due to adverse weather in October and November, he said.
Asia remained the leading destination for Chilean cherries, with 82 per cent of shipments heading to China. Combined with the a new faster shipping route to China, cutting five days off the transit times, fruit arrived in better condition that previous seasons.
South Korea, a new market for Chile, which opened in January 2016, had a significant volume, Bown said, at 1,341 tonnes.
The remaining markets included the US and Canada, accounting for 6.7 per cent of the cherry export volume. Shipments to Europe dropped 0.5 per cent to 2.7 per cent of the export crop, while emerging market Brazil saw an increase of 23.1 per cent compared to the season prior, with 2,248 tonnes shipped to the neighbouring South American nation.
Promotional focus on Asia
The 2016/17 seasonal promotions focused on the US, Brazil and China this year, with US$5m invested in promotional programmes in Asia.
"The promotion of cherries in China, which ended 30 days ago, has been a key tool to reach the final consumer," said Bown. "Therefore, we focus our focus on this market, which is also the most important for our cherries and where we can still grow in consumption.”
The promotional campaign included in-store promotions, outdoor advertising and TV ads as well as a social media push. Christian Carvajal, marketing director of Asoex, said this season’s promotions in China were the most important yet.
“We promoted Chilean cherries in 36 cities, reaching a potential population in these cities of 190m people,” he said. "Additionally, it was possible to increase the consumption by incorporating new consumers of cherries and to promote cherries amongst the frequent consumers.
“In this way, the cherry campaign was very complete, simultaneously seeking to display our brand ‘Cherries from Chile’, and delivering our message in the main channels of potential consumers.”
As Chile’s cherry production continues to rise, Cristian Tagle, President of the Asoex Cherry Committee, said cold chain and logistics improvements would be needed in China.
“Chile's cherry production potential will reach 150,000 tonnes in the coming years,” he said. “This means that logistics in China will have to improve, especially in terms of refrigerated storage in the distribution chain. Notwithstanding the above, the most important thing perhaps, will be to increase the demand for cherries in China, targeting mainly the middle segment consumer who does not yet consume cherries in a habitual way."