Exports of Chilean cherries increased in recent years

Published on 14 May 2021

We share an analysis of exports of the main agricultural product exported by the South American country, which recorded a good performance in the last 2020-2021 season.

Chile is a country traditionally associated with the production of nuts and fences. Its latitude allows it to develop these products with greater competitiveness than other South American countries, and this has been taken advantage of. The most outstanding case is that of cherries, which have managed to be positioned in the international market, especially in China, and have generated billions of dollars a year in income. In fact, they are already Chile's main agricultural export product, with sales of US$ 1,228 million, compared to US$ 1,010 million for grapes.

The expansion of the Chinese economy is unstoppable, even in the most complex scenarios. This has allowed it to consolidate itself as a non-traditional destination, beyond the usual places such as North America, Europe, Japan and South America.

In the last export season, cherry recorded high growth despite the complexity of the international economic environment. The early recovery of China after the COVID-19 pandemic helped the cherry crop to be exploited and even sold at a better price: according to Chile's Office of Agricultural Studies and Policies (Odepa), while exports of this product to all destinations grew 4% in terms of quantity during the last season (which takes place between November and February), the increase was 7% in terms of value compared to the previous one. The increase in shipments is shown in the following graph.

Distribution of the international cherry market

As already mentioned, the main factor maintaining the dynamism of Chilean cherry exports is the development of Chinese demand. Its predominance among importing countries is very marked, and its consolidation as an origin is equally significant.

The following tables show the above, as well as the comparison with a more mature market such as the United States. However, what has been achieved by Chilean exporters in China is especially noteworthy because the magnitude of what has been placed is much higher than what has been achieved in a traditional destination such as the United States, with a consolidated consumer culture.

A deeper look

It should be noted that Chilean exports are not exclusive of local production in the places where it is consumed, which is large both in North America and in China itself. Being in different hemispheres, the production dates are opposite in the calendar and this is precisely what consolidates the comparative advantage of the fruit.

Other Chilean export fruits

In general, Chile has established itself as a country where agricultural producers have taken advantage of geographical conditions and implemented technology to grow in traditional markets and develop a culture of consumption in new destinations. Grapes, mandarins and blueberries are some examples of crops that have had very good results globally, and have even served as a basis for experiences replicated in Peru, which does not become a competitor but a strategic ally due to the exact mismatch of export campaigns. This makes it possible to share buyers and join efforts in distribution.

The following tables show the five most outstanding products.

The great difference between Chile's export portfolios to the United States and China is due to the enormous weight of cherries in the second of these destinations. A point to highlight is that this high participation is recent. Since 2008, Chilean cherries enter China without tariffs thanks to the signing of the free trade agreement between the two countries, and since 2011 the Asian giant is the main importer of this fruit in the world, so the expansion has been abrupt.

It is important to note that China is not only a destination for industrial or mass-consumed products. As an example, the fact that it is the main market for Chilean wines shows that it is an area with consumers with high purchasing power and in search of non-essential products that even imply luxury. And in short, the cherry can be placed in this category.

The conditions are ripe for Chilean cherry producers to continue to take advantage of the Chinese dynamism, and even replicate the experience in other Asian countries.

For more information about the market and the opportunities to be seized, you can explore Veritrade's website.

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