Chinese tariffs take heavy toll on U.S. cherry exports

September 10 , 2018

Chinese tariffs have had a significant toll on U.S. cherry exports this year, with USDA data revealing that volumes shipped to the market through July were a third lower year-on-year.

In July specifically – the month in which the second and largest wave of tariffs came into effect – exports were half last year’s level.

China last year became the U.S. Northwest’s leading cherry export market, but over recent months it has increased tariffs from 10% to 50% as trade tensions between the two economic powerhouses have boiled over.

The first wave of 15% implemented was at the beginning of April followed by a second round of 25% on July 6.

U.S. cherry exports to China from January through July this year were registered at 13,168 metric tons (MT) – 34% lower than the 19,843MT registered over the same period last year. In total last year the U.S. exported 22,662MT of cherries to China.

In July this year the U.S. exported 8,240MT compared to 15,911MT last July.

A large number of U.S. cherry exporters canceled their Chinese programs in July as a result of the tariff hike, and so the year-on-year declines for August are likely to be even more significant. 

Total cherry exports to all markets were 11% lower in both volume and FOB value over the seven-month period – at 80,925MT and US$475 million respectively – with Northwest growers having harvested a smaller crop than last year.

South Korea was the only top-six market to receive greater year-on-year volumes from January through July, with exports rising by 11% to 16,553MT.

Along with China, there were declines for Canada (-8%; 26,100MT), Taiwan (-6%; 7,600MT), Hong Kong (-9%; 5,900MT), and Japan (-41%; 3,300MT).

Domestic market

U.S. cherry volumes sold in the domestic market a the end of August were 15% down year-on-year at 272,400MT, and the lower volumes reflected in the wholesale market prices.

Wholesale prices for an 18-pound bag were similar year-on-year in June at US$50.30, according to Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) data. But the average price was up 17% in July at US$39.40 and up 23% in August at US$42.00.

However, average prices in July and August were lower than in the 2016 season.

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