Argentina has carried out its first airfreighted cherry exports to China. The consignment, loaded by Cerezas Argentinas, left the International Airport of Ezeiza in Buenos Aires on Thursday.
It arrived on Sunday, the eve of Chinese New Year, and almost 15 days before the arrival of the eight containers that left Chile’s port of Valparaíso on 8 January by ship, making the company the first Argentine producer to land its cherries in China.
Inspectors from the Chinese and Argentine plant health services were on hand to ensure that the shipment complied with the rigorous phytosanitary protocols demanded by China, including the requirement for the fruit to be subjected to a 15-day period of cold treatment.
The Sweet Heart cherries, which will be marketed under the Extracherries brand, will land on the market just in time for Chinese New Year, when fruit consumption peaks.
“China is the world’s leading importer of cherries and this first airfreighted export marks a real milestone,” said Adolfo Storni, president of Cerezas Argentinas, adding that it represented a huge opportunity for the sector to generate investment in new farms and technologies.
“If Argentina achieves the same thing that Chile has achieved in only 15 years, the cherries could become one of the most exported fruits in the country.”
Storni urged the Argentine government to abolish the 12 per cent export tax it imposes on cherries, and called for the signing of a free trade agreement to eliminate the Chinese import tariff, which currently stands at 10 per cent.
Cerezas Argentinas was the only Argentine company to obtain authorisation to export cherries by air this season.
The Patagonian company owns around 1,200ha of fruit production, including apples and pears as well as cherries, in the Valle Medio and Río Negro province.