China facing widespread cherry shortage, says importer

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China facing widespread cherry shortage, says importer

If the current Chinese cherry import market were to be summarized in one phrase, Faye Xie from Hangzhou Zugeng Import & Export Co., Ltd perhaps captured it best. Shanghai ships sq

"Cherry sales have gone viral in China," she said

In conversation with, Xie said cherry prices continually surged since the arrival of the first Chilean lots in mid-December in the lead up to Chinese New Year - or Spring Festival as it's known in China - on Jan. 31.

"Sales are agile for a variety of fruits in the weeks running up to the Chinese New Year, yet there has been some interesting twists in the cherry market in China," she said.

"In the beginning, many had low estimates for the sales of cherries, but now the demand has far exceeded the supply, leading to widespread supply shortage."

Based on a Shanghai market report released by Origin Direct Asia on Jan. 22,  depending on the type and size, the price of the Latin American fruit peaked at CNY310-500 (US$51.23-82.63)  per box (5kg) and bottomed at CNY300–480 (US$49.58-79.33).

"The freight-on-board prices of Chilean cherries saw a US$7 -10 per case increase, and the overall export volume rose by more than 20% from last season. It came as a surprise when even more of this year's cherries were sold," Xie said, adding that the key driver has been Chinese consumers' growing interest in new products.

Kurt Huang from Shanghai-based Huizhan Produce Market confirmed this year's record-setting prices for Chilean cherries, telling about the supply shortage and the factors leading to this year's sales growth.

"First of all, Chilean cherries are of consistently good quality this season, and then you have the friendly weather in China throughout January.

"Finally, the second, third and even fourth-tier cities in China demonstrated robust demand."

As an example of the latter, Huang highlighted that desirable sales have even been seen in Guiyan, a fourth-tier city and the capital of China's poorest province Guizhou.

He added that strikes in Chile have had a minimal impact on the Chinese market.

"Most Chilean cherries were packed and shipped for China before the strike, as exporters were trying to fetch the Chinese New Year window," he said.

In contrast, the prices of New Zealand and Tasmanian cherries, which have always been on the more expensive end of the spectrum, have remained fairly stable. Despite overall lower cherry production in Australasia, Huang said their volumes into the Chinese mainland market have in fact gone up compared to last year.

"The steep prices of Chilean cherries actually made it easier for the sale of Australian and New Zealand cherries."

For Xie, the strong performance of Chilean cherries has outshone other imported fruits, especially tropical fruits from South East Asia that have gained popularity amongst Chinese consumers in recent years.

"The fruits from South East Asia poses no threat at all," Xie asserted.

"Speaking of imports, the only products with comparable performance are perhaps the Red Globe grapes from Peru and the U.S."



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