Japanese market opens for fumigation-free Chilean cherries
Japanese authorities have approved market entry for Chilean cherries under a systems approach, which will offer inspection at origin as an alternative to fumigation treatment.
The measure became effective yesterday (Nov. 19) after an inspector from Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (MAFF) - who has been in the country since the end of last week to monitor orchards and packing operations - gave approval to start shipments.
A release from the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) said MAFF inspector Tatsuo Matsuda verified the sector's compliance with systems approach norms to mitigate risks posed by the codling moth (Cydia pomonella).
Matsuda will continue visiting orchards and packhouses in the VI (O'Higgins) and VII (Maule) regions until Nov. 25, accompanied by Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) officials, all arranged by ASOEX.
ASOEX president Ronald Bown said the opening was the result of "arduous and coordinated" public-private efforts, involving three years of negotiations between his organization, SAG, The Fruit Development Foundation and MAFF.
"Until this measure the only option to be able to export to the Japanese market was fumigation at origin, which precluded shipments of significant volumes and the development of the market, given the only way to export the fruit was via airfreight, which meant high costs," Bown said.
Chilean Cherry Committee president Cristian Tagle described the decision as good news.
"But we have to take it with a lot of caution, in the sense that it isn't a market where we can start sending large volumes from now," Tagle said.
"We need development with feet on the ground and good planning. We have to analyze the market well, as it's been in recession for a long time and cherry consumption mainly takes place during Christmas and Valentine's Day, which would be two dates to focus shipment peaks but at the start they will without a doubt be modest."
He echoed Bown's comments by highlighting the new seafreight opportunities presented by the systems approach, with lower freight rates so that fruit can arrive in the market at more competitive prices and reach more Japanese consumers.
SAG director Ángel Sartori said his team was very satisfied with the systems approach opening.
"It is also an excellent opportunity for Chilean growers, so we will continue to concentrate on undertaking coordinated work with our counterparts in Japan, responding to the high phytosanitary standards that markets like this demand," Sartori said.
Statistics published by Chile's Office of Agricultural Research and Policy (ODEPA) show cherry exports to Japan have not occurred since 2011 when US$307,700 worth of fruit was sent to the market. This compares to total Chilean cherry exports of US$349.9 million in that year.
In the last two decades, the best year for Chilean cherry exports was 2002 when shipment values reached US$1.226 million.
Photo: Sharon Drummond, via Flickr Creative Commons