Asian taste for Chilean cherries grows while U.S. imports decrease
Fedefruta President Antonio Walker, told www.freshfruitportal.com that Asian and Latin American markets would continue to grow while he predicted a 7-9% fall in U.S. imports.
"This year we have had a good fruit size and colour, which means the fruit can be kept for longer allowing larger volumes to go to China and Asia."
He added that Latin American countries were perfect markets for varieties with higher perishability.
"Brazil is already an established market but there are other countries like Peru, Colombia and Costa Rica that are beginning to enjoy our cherries and are asking for more."
Walker said the season was originally predicted to be a record one with a forecast of 14 million boxes if favorable conditions had continued. However, this figure was adjusted to 12 million boxes due to adverse weather.
Key growing areas such as VI (O'Higgins) and VII (Maule) regions were affected resulting in a decline in volumes.
Walker said O'Higgins region's harvest is about to finish this week while in Maule the harvest of Sweetheart should start this Saturday, southern regions account for the 10% of fruit yet to be collected.
Out of date varieties no longer attractive for export and new orchards whose production was not as strong as originally predicted were contributing factors to adjusting this season's estimates.
iQonsulting statistics show that demand for cherries in the U.S. West Coast and in other Latin American countries have risen.
The consultancy estimated that the Asian market accounted for 45% of exports, the U.S. (36%) and Europe (12%) for the 2011-12 season which finishes in January.
Weaknesses in the U.S. and E.U. economies coupled with strong demand from China have made Asia a key target for Chilean exporters, according to iQonsulting.