Argentina's cherry season strong despite COVID-19 - FreshFruitPortal.com

Argentina's cherry industry wraps up positive season despite Covid-19 complications

Now that Argentina's cherry season is finished up, the industry looks back on a positive season despite concerns over Covid-19's impact.

Adolfo Storni of Extraberries and Carlos Enríquez of Viste Alegre told FreshFruitPortal.com about how Argentina faced challenges associated with coronavirus throughout the season.

An estimated 6,000 metric tons (MT) were sent this year, up 30% from last season. Pricing was also relatively balanced this season. Except for the weeks following the Chinese New Year, as sales were down from backed-up shipments into China amid coronavirus in the Asian country, pricing behavior was favorable for Argentina's cherries.

"We had a good quality product this season and the percentage that we packaged was positive," explained Storni.

Looking back on the year's performance for Argentina, in contrast to Chile, the two representatives said that the industry didn't have any issues with water supply. So, the resulting quality and quantity of fruit were positive.

At the end of the 2018 cherry season, Argentina finally reached an agreement to export its fruit to China. While it's true that the industry was impacted by the back-up of containers at Shanghai's port, China still isn't Argentina's main market for exports.

Enríquez said that "some of the industry's shipments were negatively impacted by the market conditions" in China. However, the effect wasn't as huge as the market was such a recent addition to Argentina's export destinations.

"So, volumes were directed to our principal markets successfully. Unlike the case in Chile where they had to redirect shipments from China to other markets in Europe and the U.S., we maintained trade relationships with our destination markets and that made our season successful in general," he detailed.

When asked about European markets and cherry pricing relative to Covid-19 in the region, Enríquez explained that sales in the continent have already wrapped up. In the U.K. and Italy, for example, sales are all finished up.

"Considering the circumstances, we think that we've managed to handle the season pretty gracefully," explained Enríquez.

Finally, relative to projections for the upcoming season, both representatives told us that now, markets won't distinguish between countries of origin for cherries, but rather by quantity and quality.

In the long-term, especially with regards to Covid-19, Enríquez emphasized that the outlook is a question of the larger impacts of the virus on the industry rather than other concerns like productivity that have been central to conversations in the past.

"In what way is this going to affect the logistics, business and costs in general? We have to see how we are going to heal our wounds and how this complex situation is going to develop and be resolved," he concluded.