The Chilean cherry industry has launched its 2021/22 season with a special ceremony to mark the cherry blossom celebration.
The event, held at the Garces Fruit facilities in San Francisco de Mostazal, was attended by the Chinese Ambassador to Chile, Niu Qingbao, along with representatives of the industry and Chile’s Agriculture Minister, María Emilia Undurraga.
Hernán Garcés, president of the company, carried out a guided tour through orchards and packings, explaining the work undertaken by the industry to comply with the quality and safety protocols demanded by the export market, and showcasing the latest technology employed by the sector.
Following the disruption to the 2020/21 campaign after unproven claims that Covid had been detected in a consignment of Chilean cherries arriving in China, Chile was keen to highlight the additional safety protocols it has put in place for the new season.
The director of Chile’s Sanitary Agency (SAG), Horacio Bórquez, said: “We have no doubt that, with the new protocol agreed with the Chinese authorities, the risks of any incident this season are much lower.
“SAG, together with the industry, has been working on these protocols, including extensive training, so that together we can assure that the health attributes of our fruit are as good or even better than before.”
Niu praised the efforts of the sector to prepare for the new season saying: “Work has been done in coordination with Chinese authorities, through remote inspection of viruses and other issues, so there should be no technical obstacles in these matters, so we hope that this season’s shipments of Chilean cherries will be very successful”.
Highlighting the commercial and cultural ties between the two countries, Niu said: “At this moment there is a coincidence between what happens in Chile with the cherry blossom celebration and in China where we are beginning Mid-autumn festival celebrations, which, is not a mere coincidence, but rather a natural connection that unites both countries.
The Ambassador said all Chinese believed that Chile is a friendly country and “the point is that consumers seek to buy products from friendly countries”.
Ronald Bown, President of Asoex, commented: “For us, this celebration has been an important experience, not only because of how the Chinese authorities have welcomed us, but also because the Chinese people recognise in our fruit a quality, healthy, safe, and tasty product that are produced with the care that consumers deserve”.
Bown added that the cherry industry was working on a major promotional campaign this season to increase access to different cities and regions in China.
Undurraga highlighted the importance of Chilean fruit growing and the ties with China for the development of the rural sector and the country.
“Agriculture, and particularly fruit growing, is a generator of development for Chile and many regions in the country.
“Being able to promote an activity like this one is an opportunity to highlight the role that China has for our products, in this case Chilean cherries, which are available at a very special time of the year, but also contribute to the health of the Chinese population.”
Garces praised the “special magic” that united Chile with China, noting: “We have produced, as an industry, a cherry that due to its taste and quality has conquered Chinese consumers. In addition, its great colour is a symbol of success.
“We have developed a modern industry, with the latest technology and incredible logistics to provide the best fruits to consumers.”
Cristián Tagle, president of the Chilean Cherry Committee, also highlighted the work of the sector in ensuring quality and safe products for consumers.
“Chilean producers are increasingly aware and concerned about producing good quality, controlling shipments and learning lessons from previous seasons, so I am optimistic that the quality will be very good, which is positive news for the markets and end consumers,” he said.