India: a promising market for the Chilean cherry industry

India: a promising market for the Chilean cherry industry

Interview with Isabel Quiroz, Executive Director at iQonsulting
India Chilean cherries

Chile is the main exporter of cherries in the world, this is not new. Season after season, this fruit from the South American country reaches different places on the planet, leaving an indelible mark, although there is one market that stands out above others: China.

There, the cherry is more than a food, it is an object of desire, as it represents prosperity, good fortune, luck and more. It is not surprising then that more than 90%* Chilean cherries end up on the tables of the inhabitants of the Asian giant.

Specifically, it is the weeks and days prior to the Chinese New Year where the peak in sales is reached in places like Hong Kong or Guangzhou. After this date, other challenges remain, such as the sale of later varieties, which has given space to various questions, among them: what other markets can be covered?

Isabel Quiroz

For Isabel Quiroz, Executive Director and founding partner of the market consulting firm, iQonsulting, there is a place that must begin to take center stage: India

But how to start?

“The first thing is that it will be very difficult to find a market like China with the value that they add to the fruit, which represents something more, it is for that value that they are willing to pay high prices. However, we have to develop other markets and India has many inhabitants, who at some point will even surpass the population of China, and they also value fruit very importantly, as food if in this case. There is a population of rich people there, with very high incomes, which is more or less 10% of the population. If we are thinking that India today has 1.4 billion inhabitants, we just have to take into account what that 10% means, that they can pay very high prices for a fruit as delicate and as wonderful as the cherry,” explains the specialist. 

Despite this, entering the market in that country with cherries has a series of complexities, the main one being the lack of infrastructure. Although the export of fruits from Chile to the place are in crescendo*, the cherry stands out for its delicacy and its short life once harvested, this requires logistics and speed. And although this implies a great challenge, it is not at all a new scenario in the local fruit industry.

“We have a problem in Chile, it is true that it is a large market, it is true that they value cherries, but they do not have infrastructure. However, China also started like this, there was no infrastructure to receive this delicate fruit either, the Chileans themselves went to China, they settled, they rented refrigerators, I’m talking about 20 years ago, they even began to associate to build refrigerators, they looked for the way to care for the fruit when the containers arrive. So, India also offers this opportunity and it is probably the same Chileans who perhaps, in association with Indians, can establish a better infrastructure for its care and distribution, which allows you not to have the rush to arrive and go to the market immediately,” Quiroz adds.

The case of India is particular, it cannot be compared with other markets…

“That’s how it is. This is what I recommend for Asian markets with less infrastructure like India, but not for cases like the United States or Europe, where the strategy is completely different; it has to be a regular supply of fruit and fruit delivery programs to supermarkets, this is where we are failing today because we are mainly focus on serve our main market, China”.

Also, in the United States, the level of competition, the level of marketing is completely different, even from a cultural point of view…

“Yes, in fact, there is a kind of anger on the part of importers because the shipping promises for cherries are not fulfilled, for example, this season China has increased 8% compared to the volume we shipped last year, with fewer fruits, and that is because the market is so good that exporters are more willing to supply the market that is paying them more, instead of complying with the programs with which they have committed to free consignment with the traditional markets of Chile”, she concludes. 

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