Photo courtesy of Fresh Fruit Portal

Sellout gathering descends on Global Cherry Summit in Chile, with China taking centre stage

Fresh Fruit Portal

Chile became the epicenter of the world cherry industry Thursday with more than 1,400 attendees and 80 sector businesses gathered at the Monticello Events Center in Santiago to celebrate the 5th edition of the Global Cherry Summit.

A large delegation from China, including the Chinese ambassador in Chile, Niu Qingbao, attended the event, organized by Yentzen Group and the Chilean Cherry Fruit Committee of Frutas de Chile (formerly ASOEX). Qingbao was awarded in recognition of his contributions to the Chilean cherry trade relationship with China by Frutas de Chile President Iván Marambio.

National and international panelists spoke on various topics, including analysis of the Chilean cherry market, climate projections for 2024-25, the Chinese market and its challenges, as well as strategies to be learned from the New Zealand kiwifruit giant Zespri.

Chilean industry growth

The growth of the Chilean cherry industry has increased exponentially in the last decade. Cristián Tagle, president of the Chilean Fruit Cherry Committee, explained that from 2014 to date, the volume sent to the Chinese market has grown seven times, from 11 million boxes to 80 million.

Similarly, brand recognition in the Asian giant went from 73 to 84%.

 “Today no one can deny that Chile in China is better known thanks to our ‘ambassador,’ the cherry,” he said during the summit. 

He said the number of cherry exporters has increased from seven to more than 50. The number of Chinese ports receiving Chilean fruit directly has also increased from two to seven.

He also highlighted the public-private partnership between the industry and the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture’s phytosanitary division, SAG, advancing progress on health and safety issues and the development of online inspections to improve efficiency and reduce packaging/dispatch times.

Tagle said the industry must continue working on the phytosanitary level to ensure its future.

“We have to understand that a business, no matter how clever it may be, if it puts health at risk in the markets, it compromises the future of a specific industry,” he said.

Tagle, in turn, commented that fluctuations in population size must be taken into consideration to plan properly. 

“In the case of China, it is expected that the population could reduce in the next decade. What is clear is that the new consumers we supply will have more and more purchasing power, more knowledge to choose what they buy,” he said. “In that scenario, producing high-quality cherries, with consistency and a view of sustainability, is something fundamental.”

China’s economic outlook

Tonnies Feng, general manager of Ipsos China, spoke further about the macroeconomic conditions in China and consumer tendencies. 

“We hit the bottom during the 2020 pandemic and got around a 2.2% growth rate in the GDP. We have experienced turbulent growth during the last three years,” he said.

For 2024, he said there is “cautious optimism” for 4.8% GDP growth. This growth should also favor retails sales, which also dropped in 2020.

“We got around 5.5 percent year-on-year growth in the beginning two months this year. I would say that this is a corrective trend since the pandemic,” Feng said at the Global Cherry Summit.

The Chinese government is taking action, he explained, to boost consumer confidence, which took a hit from the pandemic.

“In the last year, the Chinese government has organized around 300 events to boost consumer behavior. We call this the year of consumption boosting,” he said. “The Chinese government has also announced around 20 policies to boost consumer confidence, including consumption vouchers, consumption rebates, subsidizing promotion campaigns and consolidating online transaction protection.”

In the long term, he said the Chinese market should prove resilient and dynamic, despite challenges that arise. That means huge potential for the fresh fruit industry in coming years.

He identified four mega trends to keep in mind regarding consumer changes: rapid urbanization, the rise of Gen Z, technological advancement and environmental risks.



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