Export crop pegged at 95.4m cartons but subject to change due to adverse climatic events

Chile expects to ship 95.4m (5kg) cartons of cherries during the 2023/24 season, according to the first estimate released by the Chilean Cherry Committee on Tuesday.

Chilean cherries

The committee, whose members represent more than 85 per cent of the country’s cherry export volume, said the forecast had been particularly challenging due to recent adverse climatic events and does not take into account the recent rainfall that has affected production in parts of the country.

“Although the new estimate shows an increase of 15 per cent on last season’s shipments, we must keep in mind that, given the climatic reality that is being faced, it is a volume that is subject to change as the season progresses,” said Asoex president Iván Marambio.

“What there is greater certainty about is that we will continue sending cherries of very good quality, size and flavour to the world to ensure that consumers can enjoy this Chilean fruit, especially in China, our main destination.”

The most recent weather front hit Chile’s main production regions just days after harvesting had begun, when fruit early fruit was colouring up on the tree and later varieties were in the flowering process. In some parts of the country, orchards had still not fully drained following earlier rainfall in July and August.

Jorge Valenzuela, president of produce federation Fedefruta, commented: “The spring rains are being very erratic, and although some areas could have avoided damage, many producers face challenges due to the wet weather”.

Fedefruta urged producers to implement damage limitation measures to prevent exposed fruit from splitting and protect flowering trees from greater complications further down the line.

Claudia Soler, executive director of the Cherry Committee, commented: “We have never had a season so difficult to estimate, as the volumes vary week by week, especially due to agroclimatic issues that we have been facing as a sector. For this reason, this first estimate does not include the effect of the latest rains, nor adjustments for late fruit set and abortions in development”.

Peak production is anticipated for week 51. As the Chinese New Year falls later next year (on 10 February as opposed to 22 January in 2023), this will ease pressure on exporters and give them more time to make shipments and mean less pressure than last year, Soler noted.

Outlining the work the sector is undertaking to ensure that logistics flow as smoothly as possible, both in Chile and abroad, Soler highlighted the committee’s recent visit to China for Chile Week, during which it visited various markets and met with importers and retailers to plan for the new season.

“We also held workshops for representatives of the wholesale markets of Chengdu and Shanghai, where we were able to address the promotional actions that will accompany our new cherry season in China,” Soler said.

The committee will release its next forecast at the end of November.