A Chinese cherry grower from the northern Hebei province last week began selling his first cherries of the 2019 domestic season, entering into the market as imported supplies wind down.
Zhang Zhi, owner of Zuiyu, told FreshFruitPortal.com his fruit is currently being sold at around 200RMB (US$30) per half kilo.
This is Zhi’s third year growing and selling cherries, which are mainly focused on early and late varieties to better plug the gaps in the market. He says he is able to achieve high prices by targeting the shoulders of the season.
The main variety currently on sale is Tieton, while the latest variety is Nanyanghong, which enters the market in mid-July and lasts into August.
China’s domestic cherry industry has developed significantly over recent years, he said, but noted there are still many problems, such as high usage of chemical fertilizers and a general preference of quantity rather than quality. There are also many issues with post-harvest processing, storage, transportation and logistics.
Branding is becoming increasingly important for Chinese consumers, and there is diminishing space for poor quality fruit, he added.
Liu Wenpo, chief executive of Beijing Runfuyuan Trading Co., said that one of the biggest advantages domestic cherries have over imported fruit is the much shorter transport time to the end market, meaning they can be sold fresher.
China has been growing sweet cherries since the 1980s, introducing varieties from Canada, Ukraine, the U.S. and Italy, carrying out trials around the country.
Most cherries are grown in the north and northeast of the country, in provinces including Hebei, Henan, and Gansu.