Agronometrics in Charts: US Market Witnesses The Lowest Prices for Chilean Cherries in 10 Years

By Agronometrics | 14 April 2023

In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the state of the Chilean cherry season. Each week the series looks at a different horticultural commodity, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.

The Chilean fresh cherry industry had a promising 2022-2023 season, which saw the country maintaining its position as the leading global supplier of cherries. The season closed after exporting a record volume of 415,315 tons, which represents a 16.55% increase from the previous year. Chilean cherries currently account for 24.83% of the country’s total fresh fruit exports as of April 3, 2023. North America is currently the second largest market for this Chilean fruit, with 18,894 tons shipped this season. For the 2022-23 campaign, the U.S. imports culminated at 2.9 K tonnes, 26% higher than the peak volume recorded in the 2021/22 season.

cherry volumes by histor 1

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

A key aspect of this campaign “was undoubtedly that the logistics worked quite well, which allowed us to diversify the ports in Chile and China, and thus reach other regions, such as secondary or second-tier cities, more efficiently and with a better product. Those regions are also where we seek to promote greater consumption of our cherries and where we must give a push to our promotions in order to reach the volumes we expect in the future,” says Claudia Soler, manager of the ASOEX Cherry Committee. During the final week, over 5,000 containers were shipped. This accomplishment required the coordination of the logistics chain, with port diversification playing a crucial role. However, “there are still challenges that we must address,” she added. 

In four years, the cherry acreage in Chile has nearly doubled, from 38,291 ha in 2019 to 61,558 ha today. The rate of growth poses significant challenges for the committee, including sustaining quality standards across the industry and implementing effective marketing strategies to sell such a substantial quantity of produce in a relatively brief period of time.

One major impediment faced by producers and exporters in this process is the challenge of securing a sufficient number of workers to carry out the harvest and packing processes. The labor costs are exorbitantly high, thus leading to increased production costs for the growers and exporters. As a consequence, many companies are exploring ways of enhancing efficiency through automation of the packing process, leveraging technology and modernized equipment. This issue poses a considerable challenge to the cherry production industry, particularly given the continuous expansion in production levels each marketing year.

Another critical area of concern for Chilean cherry exporters is the need to process the fruit promptly and effectively, to prevent spoilage, maintain the firmness of the fruit, and ensure that the cherries arrive in the export markets in optimal condition. Moreover, exporters aim to provide cherries of consistently high quality to sustain premium prices for the Chilean cherry exports. This task becomes increasingly demanding for the Chilean cherry industry, given the rapid expansion in production and exports each year.

Oversupply in the US market caused  prices to slip considerably. Week 5 saw prices at $23.40 per package, 27% lower in comparison to the 2021/22 season. In fact, this season saw the lowest prices in nearly 10 years. The last time prices for Chilean cherries plummeted even lower was in 2011 which saw prices as low as $20 per package.

cherry prices by history 1

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

cherry prices by commodi 1

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

US-bound cherries were carried on the Blueberry Express from the port of Coronel to the port of Gloucester. “This service was the first of its kind, making it possible to deliver the fruit in 12 days and diversifying both the ports of departure and arrival,” says Iván Marambio, president of fruit association Asoex. “Arrivals at Gloucester totalled 6,549 tonnes, an increase of 104 per cent on 2021/22, consolidating its position as the main port of entry for Chilean cherries shipped to the US,” he said. 

cherry volumes by market

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

In our ‘In Charts’ series, we work to tell some of the stories that are moving the industry. Feel free to take a look at the other articles by clicking here.

All pricing for domestic US produce represents the spot market at Shipping Point (i.e. packing house/climate controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the pricing data represents the spot market at Port of Entry.

You can keep track of the markets daily through Agronometrics, a data visualization tool built to help the industry make sense of the huge amounts of data that professionals need to access to make informed decisions. If you found the information and the charts from this article useful, feel free to visit us at where you can easily access these same graphs, or explore the other 21 commodities we currently track.

Written by: Sarah Ilyas

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