Exports to the U.S. Go? As the world’s biggest cherry exporter seeks less reliance on China, its second-largest market appears ripe for expansion. Chilean How High Could



T here are few fruits more popular in China than cherries. As consum- er spending power has grown, so too has demand for the fruit, whose red hue represents pros- perity and fortune. Cherries imported during the winter in particular have become somewhat of a status sym- bol, in part due to their higher price tag than most fruits. Arriving in peak volumes for the Chinese New Year, which typically falls between late January and mid-February, cherries are the perfect gift to give friends and loved ones. These factors have led to stag- gering growth in shipments during

recent years from Chile, by far the world’s biggest cherry exporter. The country’s total exports of the fruit rose from around 19 million boxes (95,000 tons) in the 2016-17 season to a little more than 70 million boxes (350,000 tons) in the 2021-22 season. Incentivized by the higher prices, Chile during the past few years has been sending more than 90% of its exports to the Chinese market. But this high reliance on a single market has put Chile in a challeng- ing position, and the South Ameri- can country is now beginning a big market diversification effort, and one of the main secondary markets is the United States. The question now is

what levels could Chilean cherry ex- ports to the U.S. reach in the future?

The need for diversification In this equation, one thing is certain: There will be no shortage of cher- ries for U.S. buyers. The fruit has undoubtedly been the star of Chile’s fruit industry over the last decade. As production of other high-value prod- ucts like avocados and table grapes has struggled due to various fac- tors, such as climate-related issues, production of cherries have soared. With many young trees yet to start producing or reach full production - and many more trees likely to be planted by growers in the near future

28 Vision Magazine

December 2022

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