According to the Chilean Cherry Committee’s forecast for this season, cherry exports from Chile are expected to ramp up 9.8% compared to the previous season and around 13,000 tonnes will be shipped to the US market. This, in part, can be attributed to the fact that Chile did not experience inclement weather conditions such as rain or frost leading up to the end of November. Chile is also expanding exports and implementing more promotional campaigns aimed for the US market.
As is evident from the graph below, in spite of the Chilean Cherry Committee’s projected increase in exports directed for the US market, so far, this season’s peak imports were recorded at 453,600 kg in week 49, a 21.23% drop in comparison to week 49 of the 2020-21 season, when the volume of cherries was recorded at 576,072 kilos. Although we have yet to witness how the season unfolds, we have reason to expect an influx of Chilean cherries owing to the fact that Chile plans to reduce exports to China from 91 percent in the last season to 87 percent this season. This implies that more Chilean cherries would be directed to other markets such as the US in the remainder of this season. On the other hand of the spectrum, it is important to note that the deficiencies in manpower and port logistics are still an impediment for Chile’s cherry harvests and could have an impact on potential production.
The graph below displays the volumes of cherries received since the beginning of this season; the highest quantities were recorded at 453.6 kg in week 49.
Complying with the trend of the import volume for Chilean cherries this season, the prices until Week 49 were comparatively higher than those recorded during the last season. As can be observed in the graph below, the cost per kilo was $53 in week 48 compared to $48.38 for the last season’s forty-eighth week. Week 50 saw a reduction in prices compared to the last season, with costs at $46 per kg. Weeks 51 and 52 also showed a dip in prices when compared to the last season. Further reduction in prices could be expected in the following weeks as the incoming cumulative volume of cherries continues to soar.
As depicted in the graph below, Chile has been on the forefront when it comes to cherry exports to the US. If we evaluate imports from the past six years, the highest volumes of cherries from Chile in the last six years were recorded in 2018, with quantities peaking at around 8.62M kg.
The graph below shows the typical freight pattern for cherries exported by Chile. The season typically begins with a spike in air freight usage by Chile for exports to the US. At the beginning of the season, freight by ship is minimal. Air continues to be the main means of transport for Chilean cherries until early to mid December. Sea freight subsequently becomes more rampant for the export of Chilean cherries. As can be observed from the graph below, air freight peaked at the end of November in the last season with volumes of around 657,720 kg being exported while the highest quantities exported by boat were around 880,000 kgs in mid January. This season, however, showed a plunge of around 31 percent in the peak quantities exported by air in comparison to the last season.
With prices continually dropping it seems like it would be a good moment for more economic shipments by boat to take over. Shipments by these means, however, have been running 3 to 4 weeks behind last year.
The Chilean Cherry season has been projected to run for longer than 12 weeks for the first time. While we still need to wait and see how this season pans out, larger marketing campaigns, better weather conditions and a reduction in exports to China are clear indicators that the US could expect larger supplies of Chilean cherries this season, which might yet surpass the volume of exports from last year.