Walter Masman on the Chilean cherry: "With what the market pays today, it is still interesting to grow"

The expert consultant in cherries will be part of the Blueberries & Cherries Chile 2023 International Seminar organized by Blueberries Consulting

In the southern hemisphere, the Chilean cherry industry is unbeatable, with a 95.7% share of the region's supply during the 2021-2022 season. This industry has existed for at least 20 years in Chile, however, it was in the last decade that it had exponential growth, driven by the increase in popularity of the fruit in China.

That is why Blueberries Consulting decided to incorporate this high-value crop into its traditional annual meeting, organizing the International Seminar Blueberries & Cherries Chile 2023 at the Monticello Conference Center on April 13.

The experienced consultant and agricultural adviser Walter Masman will participate in the event, presenting his analysis of the recent season and the performance of this Chilean fruit sector in the cherry room.

Walter Masman is known in the Chilean industry for his expertise on the fruit, participating in the evaluation of the development of varietal tests in the country. The former student of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso talked about the future of the sector, the varietal offer, its quality and the projection of the industry.

Do you think that the new varietal offer meets the demands of the current market?

The vast majority of varieties meet the parameters that customers want today in terms of size, firmness and post-harvest life, which is very relevant in our case.

There are some varieties that have been developed for more years, and for this reason we can affirm that the parameters that the market and the customer require are being met. However, still, in several genetic programs, perhaps a couple of years are missing to be able to effectively prove and demonstrate that the quality parameters are met.

What participation do the new varieties have in total Chilean production?

In Chile, today the 8-10 varieties with which we have been producing for many years continue to dominate. Everything that I speak to you as the new, is something that is just selling. There are still practically no surface incidents that they manage to produce.

Until March 2022, the most exported varieties during the 2021/2022 season were: Lapins (123.979 tons), Santina (85.136 tons), Regina (66.851 tons), Bing (22.862 tons), Sweetheart (20.299 tons), Royal Dawn ( 9.870 tons), Skeena (7.524 tons) and Kordia (7.227 tons).

Is it necessary to make a varietal change in Chilean cherries? Why?

The replacement is rather to position an earlier volume of fruit, knowing that it will be better paid. There is a significant demand and little supply of cherries in the world. Therefore, entering early is very interesting from a trading point of view.

The replacement motivation should be commercial, because compared to what we have today, the vast majority of the varieties meet the requirements. Few are the varieties that are practically at the limit today, and probably the ones that are most at the limit of meeting the quality parameters are the old early varieties, which will eventually be relegated by the new genetic programs.

Are the management of the varieties of the new genetic programs similar to the traditional varieties?

(the new programs) These are varieties of excess vigor, where many times it is necessary to control it to make them more productive, to avoid dilutions, and to effectively finish the necessary elements in the fruit. Therefore, they are handled differently. Nutritionally, the formation is different.

China received 88% of Chilean cherry shipments during the 2021/2022 season. The fruit is especially in demand given the beliefs and traditions around the Chinese New Year celebration, where giving red and round products is considered a good omen. According to Masman, the Central zone of Chile advanced its harvest through the management of its crops to arrive before the celebration, which will take place in the third week (January 23, 2023), and obtain the benefits of the high price given the high demand. for the fruit in this market.

In the current situation. Do you think there is room in the market for fruit from the southern zone?

I hope that this year the south will return to what it was three years ago. These regions are going to practically split their crops now, at the end of week one. And probably the bulk of the production is going to be between week two and week three. Therefore, this decoupling between the central zone and the southern zone can probably lead us to aspire to better prices, to wait for the market (mainly China) to clear up a bit and arrive in a good way.

That was the role that the southern zone played: once all the volume from the central zone was sold, the volume from the southern zone finally arrived, long after them, with an unoccupied market and therefore with greater demand and with possibility of aspiring to better prices.

So, financially, it doesn't affect them to arrive after the Chinese New Year?

Regardless of the fact that it was post-Chinese New Year, the low volume supply there in China meant that this fruit that arrived new, fresh, under very good conditions, was strongly requested and sold quickly. In addition, it is a tiny volume (supply).

Finally, how do you project the cherry market for the following seasons?

The market in terms of volume, growing, very powerful given the area planted in the last six years and in view of a season that until today, January 6, turns out to be good. If this season remains good, it is very likely that there will be opportunities to increase again, to gradually increase the area planted a little more. Let the good airs return and projects are resumed again. Therefore, it is undoubtedly to an increasing rise in volume.

Walter Masman will be a speaker at the next International Blueberries & Cherries Seminar 2023, which will take place on April 13 at the Monticello Conference Center.

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By Catalina Pérez Ruiz - Blueberries Consulting.

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