The early fall of Chinese New Year has aligned perfectly for New Zealand cherry suppliers, with industry sources tipping export records to be broken over the 2015/16 season.
International shipments eclipsed 3,000 tonnes at the end of January, with Summerfruit New Zealand chief executive Marie Dawkins telling the Otago Daily Times that up to another 500 tonnes could be added to this figure over the final weeks of the season.
“That will make it our largest cherry-export season ever,” Dawkins explained. “Although we had some rain this season, it was when it was cold, so you don't get as many problems.”
The New Zealand industry exported a record 3,200 tonnes of cherries last season, generating a return of NZ$52m (US$34m).
Along with favourable growing conditions, Dawkins said the industry had reaped the benefits of new plantings over the past two years.
“New trees are starting to produce, and plantings from the last 10 years are maturing and bearing more fruit,” she explained.
With harvests now winding up across the country’s key Central Otago growing region, exporters have enjoyed a prime run into the popular Chinese New Year gifting period across Asia. Taiwan has remained a core market for the industry, with interest in the offering growing in China, Thailand and South Korea.
The industry looks well positioned to continue capitalising on demand, with the Otago Daily Times reporting that New Zealand’s Plant and Food Research is currently undertaking a study on the arrangement of orchards, which could see production double.