Market Outlook

around 3 million boxes. A report pub- lished in October 2022 by Rabobank, a Netherlands-headquartered financial bank, noted that U.S. imports of cher- ries from Chile from January through August 2022 showed an uptick of 131% year-on-year, with record volumes in January and February. Claudia Soler, general manager of the Cherry Committee of Chile’s Fruit Exporters’ Association (ASOEX), says the organization expects the U.S. market to become increasingly im- portant for exports over the coming years. “It is for this reason that our investment in marketing has also been increasing at annual rates of over 25%,” she says. “This season we will launch a marketing program that includes not only retail ads but also consumer promotions.” In the short- term, she expects that volumes will reach more than 7 million boxes. Alcaíno expressed a similar view, saying that exports to the U.S. could double year-on-year in the 2022-23 season. He adds that the potential of the U.S. market is “very high.” The industry veteran says that a basic exercise to analyze the po- tential can be done, based on the assumption that there is a similarity between table grapes and cherries. “The U.S. market consumes about 150 million boxes of grapes per year, of which approximately 40% is count- er seasonal fruit from the Southern Hemisphere. By that logic, consid- ering that the U.S. consumes around 65 million boxes of North American cherries per year, 40% of that total would mean there is potential for around 25 million boxes of South- ern Hemisphere cherries,” he says. “I think that the U.S. could absorb those kinds of volumes, but not in the short-term.” Alejandro García– Huidobro, the

- expectations are that by 2030 Chile could be exporting up to 140 million boxes. This would be around double the volume of the 2021-22 season. Over the past few seasons, the Chi- nese market has been able to absorb the vast majority of Chile’s cherry ex- ports, while also paying significantly higher prices than countries in other major markets such as North America and Europe. Chilean exporters have been establishing operations in China to receive and market their own fruit, while some Chinese companies have been buying up cherry orchards in the South American country to have more control of the supply chain. New trees have continued to be planted amid

optimism that the profits from sales in China would continue to roll in. But the last two seasons have been especially challenging and have prompted a reexamination, says Manuel Alcaíno of Decofrut, a Chile- based consultancy. It is now clearer than ever within the industry that market diversification is imperative. The U.S. market’s potential Although the numbers are still small, the push toward expanding trade to the U.S. can be seen in the figures from the past two seasons. In 2020-21, around 1.5 million boxes were shipped to the market, while in the most recent season this rose to

Vision Magazine 29

December 2022

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