general manager and founder of Prize, one of the largest exporters of Chilean cherries - which recent- ly announced plans to list on the NASDAQ stock exchange via a deal with private equity firm Rose Hill - also says that volumes could grow significantly in the near future. “I would say that five years from now we could easily increase the market by several times. If you look at the North American season, they con- sume around 20 times the amount Chile exported last season, so I think increasing the consumption of Chilean cherries by five, six or seven times is achievable.” But he emphasized that to reach those volumes in the long-term, exporters need to send higher qual- ity and larger fruit to the U.S. than what they have traditionally sent. A

vicious circle had been created in the past, he explains, in which the U.S. market paid less than the Chinese market, leading to less than top quality fruit being sent to the U.S., which in turn led to lower consump- tion. Now, however, he says that a rising number of shippers are under- standing that “China-quality” fruit needs to be sent to the U.S. market to build demand, even if it means ac- cepting lower prices than what China has typically paid. Alcaíno also notes that the Chilean cherry industry needs to work hard to create demand in the U.S. market for what is a fairly niche product in the winter. “This is a very different business to table grapes or blueber- ries, which have 52-week supply. The industry has not done a good enough job in the U.S. market so far, but now

it needs to step up,” he says. These efforts could come in tan - dem with a push to also increase ex- ports to continental Europe. Alcaíno explains that this market consumes around 140 million boxes annually but Chile in recent years has only shipped around 500,000 boxes. “The growth potential there is enormous, but even greater development efforts are required as it is a more fragment- ed market than the U.S,” he says. Aiming high Carl Immenhausen, sales manager at the Oppenheimer Group (Oppy), a Vancouver-headquartered distributor that is one of the largest importers of cherries into the U.S., notes that even though the market received only around 4% of Chilean cherry export- ers in the 2021-22 season, up from 2%

30 Vision Magazine

December 2022

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