Germany: Unexplored potential for U.S. cherry exports

Germany: Unexplored potential for U.S. cherry exports

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Germany: Unexplored potential for U.S. cherry exports

Germany is the world’s third largest cherry importer, following China/Hong Kong and Russia. In the last thirteen years, up to 77% of all cherries consumed in the country have been imported, mainly from other  European Union (EU) countries, according to a USDA report.

Germany has its own cherry production, which is projected to reach  45,420 metric tons (MT) in 2023-24, 3.5% below the ten-year average, mainly due to unfavorable weather conditions during pollination.

During the last decade, Germany’s annual cherry imports ranged between 45,000 and 77,000 MT. These include both sweet and sour cherries, however, the larger market is for sweets. Local production in 2022-23 amounted to 38,471 MT of sweet cherries and 10,187 MT of sour cherries. 

Currently, the largest non-EU cherry suppliers are Turkey for sweet cherries and Serbia for sour cherries.

So, where is the opportunity for U.S. cherries?

Even though the U.S. has exported cherries directly to Germany, these exports are rare, and they last occurred in the season of 2018-19. In the last few years, U.S. cherry exports to Germany mostly occurred via other EU member states, mainly the Netherlands.

According to the USDA,  “Opportunities for U.S. sweet cherries are best at either end of the German domestic production cycle, being the end of May/beginning of June and August/September. Of the two periods, the latter is more promising as there is less competition from cheaper Turkish cherries.”


Consumption trends in Germany

Fresh cherries in Germany are a seasonal product, available primarily in June and July. In 2022, 92.5% percent of private household purchases of sweet cherries occurred in these two months, and only 5.2% in August, according to the German market information company Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft mbH (AMI).

The USDA says that, “In recent years, sweet cherries have become a trend item that benefited from increased health consciousness and the growing popularity of snacking.”

In terms of preferences, the report adds that, “Consumer preferences clearly trend toward larger sizes, being one inch. Smaller cherries sell at a large discount. For example, in the week of June 12, 2023, the average wholesale price for domestic sweet cherries amounted to US$3.98 per pound for larger cherries but only $US2.97 per pound for cherries smaller than one inch. 

Peaches, which are mostly an imported product in Germany, enjoy a per capita consumption of 6.8 pounds, as they are available evenly between May and October, per capita consumption of cherries, however, is lower, at 4.9 pounds.

Introducing new cherries in the market  

Trade fairs are a great opportunity for those wishing to expand their cherry exports to the German market and take advantage of the available windows not covered by current suppliers. 

The next Fruit Logistica, the leading European trade show for fresh and dried fruit, nuts, and related products, will take place between Feb. 7-9, 2024. 

With more than 2,400 companies from across the entire fresh produce value chain participating, it serves as a unique opportunity to meet new producers and consumers of cherries in different European markets. 

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