Chilean cherry volumes are expected to increase by almost 18%, according to Chilean company Decofrut. Exports are forecast to grow by 12 million boxes, totalling 84 million boxes in the upcoming season.
During 2021, 96% of the cherry exports for the southern hemisphere came from Chile. As for destination markets, the Far East receives more than 90% of the supply. China is another important destination for Chile, concentrating 88% of total exportable supply.
But Chile is beginning to understand the need to diversify, giving a small nod to the EU market. It currently consumes 130 million boxes of domestic fruit, twice the amount than the United States. However, Chile only sells 500,000 boxes to the EU, and 750,000 to the UK.
“Consumption [in South America] is gigantic, but we have to do the work of getting into that market in seven or eight different countries, with different chains,” Decofrut’s president Manuel Alcaíno. “It is clear that administratively and commercially it is more complicated, with much stricter food health regulations, but in spite of this we must diversify and we have to do so,” said Alcaíno.
The U.S. is seeing rising demand for Chilean cherries. This past 22-23 season, shipments to the U.S. increased by almost 90% year-on-year. In 2020, 7,293 tons were shipped. In 2021, this number rose to 13,877 with approximately 3 million boxes.
“The U.S. market has a consumption potential of 24 to 25 million boxes of cherries, but today we send them 3 million. Here we have to do a gigantic job. If we look at Chile’s production projections, 120-130 million boxes to take out 20, is to take a stripe off the zebra, but we still have a tremendous challenge in China.”