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It’s usually Chile and the US that occupy the limelight on China’s cherry market, but Canadian cherries have enjoyed their moment in the sun over recent months.

The final shipments of Canadian cherries arrived in Chinese wholesale markets in the last week of September and the first week of October, and importers agree that it's been a successful season.

Timing is one of the key advantages for Canadian suppliers as their cherries are available after the peak arrivals from the Pacific Northwest, earning a unique window of opportunity in the marketplace.

That late availability was especially fruitful this year, as it coincided with the celebrations for China's mid-Autumn Festival and National Day in September and October. Cherries remain a popular gift in Chinese culture, particularly for such festive holidays, so Canadian suppliers were able to capitalise on that demand.

As well as their favourable timing, it is the high quality of Canadian cherries that's seen them enjoy rapid export growth in recent years, according to Chinese importers, who note that they’ve now established a solid presence in China and other Asian markets.

“With their high brix levels and their timing just after the US cherries, we see a lot of potential for growth `on Canadian cherries`,” said Owen Ou of Dalian Yidu Group, who is based at the group’s Guangzhou office at Jiangnan wholesale market.

Yidu has been working with Canadian suppliers for several years, and Mr Ou said that import volumes are increasing annually. “From a consumer point of view, Canadian cherries are gaining popularity because the quality is perceived as being ‘much better than the American ones’,” he told “The `Canadian` product is nice and firm and there are no issues with missing stems or split fruit.”

As Chinese consumers become more quality- and health-conscious, Mr Ou added that the longer-term prospects are very bright for Canadian cherries. “Nowadays, the consumer is more aware about fruit quality and health benefits,” he commented. “Demand for top-quality fruit is growing, which means that Canadian cherries have a lot of future potential in China.”