As China gears up for Chinese New Year next week, the country's cherry market is booming.
The run-up to the major holiday typically sees increased sales of certain fruits like cherries to give as a gift to loved ones or to share with family.
According to Ruan Shuanfeng, marketing manager of Guangzhou Jiguoxuan trading co., these days Chilean cherries are selling fast.
He said that although China's overall economic situation is not very optimistic and the average price of cherries is higher than last year, the importance of the Spring Festival - as it is often known locally - for Chinese consumers is such that they still have a strong desire to buy.
"Recently, cherries have been selling fast - almost as soon as they arrive," he said, commenting that overall he believed cherries tasted better this year but had more issues related to appearance.
"Of all the imported fruits, the Chilean cherries are undoubtedly the most popular."
He predicted that the Chinese cherry market would return to a low tide after the Spring Festival that begins of Feb. 3.
As for specific cherry varieties, he said that Bing and Kordia were fetching the highest prices at the moment "because of their better shape and texture".
In addition, he noted that another change in the Chinese cherry market this year has been the diversification of sales channels away from the traditional wholesale markets.
“Domestic sales channels are changing significantly," he said.
“In previous years, cherries have relied on the traditional primary wholesale market (Guangzhou Jiangnan market, for example) to sell throughout the country. But this year, many are starting to sell directly to second and third-tier markets or to end-consumers through platforms such as e-commerce.”
On cherry volumes available in the Chinese market this season, he said while it seems at the beginning of the campaign that volumes would be down by around 20%, so far total supplies have been very similar to the 2017-18 season.
Total exports until week 1 were 13% higher year-on-year at 161,394 metric tons (MT) – equivalent to almost 35 million boxes – while to the Far Eastern market they were up 17%.
Manuel Alcaino of market intelligence company Decofrut said in mid-January that weekly shipping volumes would likely see a significant drop over the final few weeks of the campaign, with total volumes likely to end up at similar levels to last year's record-breaking season.