There is great potential for Turkish cherries on the Chinese market following last year’s agreement of a protocol between the two countries, according to Belit Balci, deputy managing director at leading Turkish cherry exporter Alara Agri Business.
Most cherries sold in China are imported from the US. However, due to Turkey’s lower labour costs and huge production, exporters have high expectations for the market.
This week, Alara sent its first shipment of cherries to the Chinese mainland, arriving in Guangzhou.
“We are sending the varieties Regina and Kordia, as these are the most appreciated on the Chinese market,” said Balci. “We do not anticipate significant volumes this season, just enough to understand the legal import and quarantine procedures.”
“There is great potential for Turkish cherries in China,” he stated. “Turkey is the biggest cherry producer in the world, and there is a huge trend towards developing varieties for alternative markets. At the moment, the Turkish government, growers and exporters are very much focused on developing China as a new market.”
Alara is currently using airfreight to reach the Chinese mainland, but has begun work with the Turkish government to develop new short-term marine lines. “Railroads will also be an option in the near future,” said Balci. “When these are developed, it will be easier for us to ship higher volumes.”
As for what will draw Chinese consumers to Turkish cherries, Balcit recalls that the country is the “motherland” for cherries.
“There are native cherries in forests in the Black Sea region in northern Turkey,” he revealed. “Chinese customers will enjoy the top-quality fruits coming from their native origin. The first cherries shipped to China are from our own orchard located in the Central Anatolia region at Alara Heights, where winters are cool and snowy, and summers are hot and dry, with rich water resources. The day-night temperature difference supports the firm, crunchy and sweet-tasting fruit that all consumers appreciate.”