The first exports of Chilean cherries this season began a week earlier than last year, but as of week 43 the volumes are down on the 2017-18 campaign.
Shipments kicked off in week 42, during which time a total of 495 kilograms were sent to China. However, the total volume shipped by the end of week 43 was 1,220 kilograms, which is 79% lower than last year.
The previous season began in week 43, but with a much higher exports of 5,946 kilograms.
Industry representatives had predicted that this season would not have an early a start as last year, and that exports could be up to 20% lower than last year’s record 184,000 metric tons (MT).
Of the fruit shipped through week 43, 80% were sent to China and the rest to Brazil. All of the fruit originated in the central Valparaiso region.
This season’s first batch of Chilean cherries arrived in Hong Kong on Oct. 22, and corresponded to 99 boxes of the Earlisse variety.
Chile-based Decofrut anticipated that a large percentage of orchards in the country would be harvesting fruit by late November.
Claudio Vial, general manager at Rancho Cherries, previously said that the current season “will depend a lot on how the spring evolves”.
On that note, rainfall has been forecast in the growing regions in southern Chile over the coming days, which could have an impact on both volumes and fruit quality.
ASOEX launches promotional campaign in China
Meanwhile, Chile’s Association of Fruit Exporters (ASOEX) has announced the launch of this year’s promotional campaign in China.
Under the slogan, ‘Enjoy your red moment,’ the 2018-19 campaign is aiming to build on the success of last year’s promotional drive in China by taking in a wider range of cities, wholesale markets and retail outlets across the country.
The campaign will feature outdoor media advertising and point-of-sale promotions across 65 cities over 39 days.
In the run-up to Chinese New Year on Feb. 5, the campaign will focus on social media, promotional work on e-commerce platform, trade media advertising, PR events, and merchandising, as well as advertising on outdoor media.
Initially launched at Asia Fruit Logistica in September, the 2018-19 promotional campaign will run before, during and after Chinese New Year, although Charif Christian Carvajal, ASOEX’s marketing director for Asia and Europe, emphasized the need to encourage consumption at other times of the year.
“It’s very important to continue marketing Chilean cherries in China outside of Chinese New Year, so our objective is to promote Chilean cherries before and after to maintain the frequency and penetration of purchase,” he said.
With the objective of strengthening the promotional presence of Chile’s cherry sector in China, the Committee alongside the association have this season opened its first China office, based in Shanghai.
Ronald Bown, chairman of the ASOEX board, said: “Last year’s cherry promotional campaign was very successful. In fact, it was recognized as the marketing campaign of the year in the Asia Fruit Awards event celebrated in Hong Kong earlier this year.
“In this context, we believed it was time to establish a China-based office with the objective of facilitating the implementation of the campaign and strengthening the ties with our key stakeholders in the market, thus leading to an even more effective campaign,” he said.
The Chilean Cherry Committee had forecast exports of 180,000MT as of Oct. 15. But it said that this figure may be adjusted in mid-November, given the recent adverse climatic conditions experienced in the country.