Experts provide valuable insights to cherry industry ahead of Chilean season

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The virtual summit “The New Challenges of the Cherry Industry”, the second webinar held by the Global Cherry Summit, the main annual event for professionals in the cherry industry successfully took place on Thursday.

With over 850 participants, the webinar included keynote presentations that provided attendees with tools to face the future of the industry. Various presentations and a panel discussion addressed crucial scenarios for the cherry industry.

The summit was organized by Yentzen Group and the ASOEX Cherry Committee and was sponsored by CMPC, ARM, Banco de Chile, Elilaf Solutions, Pack-Man, Global Reefers, Gpgraders, IFG, MAF Chile, MultiScan, Tomra Food, UCC, Unitec and Util itas.

Moderated by the president of Yentzen Group, Gustavo Yentzen, the webinar included presentations by Cristian Tagle, president of the ASOEX Cherry Committee; Kurt Huang, General Manager of Shanghai Oheng; Manuel José Alcaíno, President of Decofrut; Darren Matschull, Director of Acquisitions of JO Sim and Militza Ivelic, Founder of Trío Kimün.

A panel discussion addressed the key scenarios for the cherry industry and was joined by Orieta Ramírez, General Manager of Frusan; Mario Edwards, General Manager of Agrofruta and Jessica Rodríguez, Founder of Trío Kimün.


The participants highlighted the importance of this webinar as it provides an opportunity for attendees to become aware of the challenges that lie ahead, as well as discuss industry-level goals such as market diversification.

Cristian Tagle, president of the Cherry Committee of Asoex began the event with a presentation on “The New Challenges of the Industry”.

Tagle said “a crucial issue is diversification, that is, how do we get to other markets. It doesn’t seem sensible to concentrate more than 90 percent in a single market, therefore it is an extremely important issue.”

“It is difficult to diversify, there are quite a few limitations in terms of enhancing the markets we want to get to. We have to highlight that the growth of last season reached 40 percent over other markets, therefore, the growth has been and will continue. It is also true that there is a keenness for producers to go to safer markets, this being triggered by an intention of safer return amid uncertainty.”

“To face these challenges, we have to be united and we cannot forget all that we have achieved thanks to working together when the cherry situation in China occurred seven months ago; we were united and that was the key.”

Scenarios for the UK, Chinese, US and European markets

Kurt Huang of Shanghai Oheng gave a presentation on “The Chinese market in 2021-22”, noting that there were many dynamics that could affect the Chilean export season to its main market. 

He emphasized that the success of the Chilean cherry season relies on everyone in the whole industry, and noted that the Covid-19 pandemic would remain a major challenge of the upcoming season, especially in terms of logistics.

In addition, he urged diversification in terms of the destination of the cherry express rapid shipping service to mainland Chinese ports. 

“Because of the uncertainty of the pandemic, there is no perfect choice or plan. What we need is to manage the risk and always prepare with a plan B,” he said.

Concluding his presentation, he said: “My friends in agribusiness are always surprised to hear how the Chilean cherry business is conducted…It is based on trust, and this year, we need to rely even more on trust.”

Darren Matschull, Procurement Director of major UK-based importer JO Sims, which imports more than half the Chilean cherries that are exported to Europe, presented ‘The European market in 2021-22’.

He emphasized that the UK must be treated differently from the European Union following the former’s exit from the bloc. He said that, given the cherry express services from Chile to China, the UK was perhaps the most distant market in terms of the sea voyage time. 

For both the UK and Europe, Matschull explained that they are both cost-sensitive, but that there are significant opportunities for growth in terms of Chilean cherry volumes, but that it was essential that exporters fully understand the markets and what the requirements are.

The UK is a mature market but still represents an opportunity to sell more. From a technical point of view, it is possibly the most difficult market in the world,” he said. “However, Europe is a completely underdeveloped market, but we need to change their mindset. I think we can do it.”

“Finally, cherries are your passion, cherries are my passion. Let’s get to work and make it happen.”

Manuel José Alcaíno, President Decofrut provided details about the U.S. market and pointed out that “it is a mature market that is able to take a significant volume from Chile at appealing prices, therefore, if we use the logic for grapes in terms of volume, it should be around 26 million boxes.”

Regarding strategies, Alcaíno explained that “the strategy is to put together a program in advance. Let us remember that logistics is different from grapes. A key issue is to avoid repackaging at the destination because it has a cost that is divided into two areas, one is the additional cost of doing the work and the other the loss of fruit.”

On the other hand, Militza Ivelic, who spoke about the harvest parameters and their impact on the useful life of the cherry said, “the challenges of the sector are centered on the fact that we are going to have to continue living with Covid. Surely there will be a shortage o labor, therefore, we have to be more efficient, we must have a lot of planning and optimize all our processes such as logistics.”

“A fundamental issue is to form good work teams that control critical points at all stages of the process and which can take action on those points in the medium and long term. The automation and incorporation of new technologies in harvest as pre-harvest are also important. In terms of diversification, we have to try to conquer and re-conquer the markets, but with different proposals to those we have made.”

Opportunities and challenges in the next season: Panel discussion

The panel discussion was made up of exhibitors and panelists who addressed topics such as the growth of the next season, quality and varieties of cherries as well as challenges in logistics.

Regarding how the industry prepares for cherry growth and the strategies that unite the association, Tagle said: “We are working on a Quality Committee within the Cherry Committee to strengthen promotions and coexistence in the product; therefore, we must build new markets, increase our presence in destinations where presence is minimal and consumption is going to grow.”

Orieta Ramírez, General Manager of Frusan said that “2020 was very difficult regarding Covid, but the key issue was quality. The quantity of the fruit on the trees was very large but the quality was not what the customers wanted. This year we’re working very hard with producers to achieve the quality that the market needs.”

Regarding varieties, Mario Edwards said “the Lapins is a very noble variety, it is a product with good taste and firmness. This variety is the most planted in Chile, it adapts better and for this reason, we much segment the products.”

Jessica Rodríguez, one of the founders of Trío Kimün, said that we depend on travel and how we manage to maintain that quality for 40 days in a fruit that is not easy to be viable past 35 days.

“What we need to do today is to be more efficient in handling and working together from harvest. We are prepared as an industry and we have the infrastructure, however, we have a workforce that needs training.”

The in-person Global Cherry Summit was postponed until 2022 due to the global spread of the Delta variant, added to the extension of the Chilean government’s state of emergency until the end of September. For more information about tickets, sponsorships and commercial opportunities, contact Natalia Castillo at [email protected] or [email protected]

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