Argentina: a panoramic look before the start of the season

Argentina: a panoramic look before the start of the season

For several years now, Argentina has been working hard to export cherries to the world. Although, as expected, China is one of the main target countries, the United States and the United Kingdom are other destinations to which the country arrives with its production, part of a different approach that targets niche markets for exportation, which according to official government figures, during 2022 reached 4278 tons.

In conversation with Smartcherry, Anibal Caminiti, Manager of the Argentine Chamber of Integrated Cherry Producers, CAPCI, indicated that expectations for the next season are positive and that if there are no climatic surprises, such as those that affected the last two campaigns during the 2023/2024 season, volume should be recovered, and express an increase of 10%.

Regarding the climatic situation, Anibal explains that although they are experiencing a colder spring, the crop has met its requirement for cold hours in all productive regions and for all varieties, which has allowed a smooth start to the season without climatic adversities and with foreseeable frosts.

“We are experiencing a colder spring than usual, this is slowing down the times in the phenological stages for most varieties, so it is estimated that they will enter production at the country level a few days later than last year, however regarding the ultra-early cherries, they are completing their phenological process without setbacks, their fruits have already begun with a straw hue, entering veraison, and an advance of their harvest is estimated. Usually these varieties in the province of Mendoza, have been harvested around 20 October, as long as environmental conditions are stable”, he explains. 

Argentine Produce

Regarding the Argentine harvest and its unique characteristics, he tells us that the country “has intangible values. 100% of the cherries we produce are grown in arid regions, which infers a high health standard, and 90% of what we export comes from Patagonia. This value of producing in cold, desert environments, with marked thermal amplitude, becomes tangible the further south the cherries are produced, accentuating their organoleptic quality”.

Although he adds that in general, in level and quality, the cherries are of a high standard in other producing countries as well as in Argentina. One of the main reasons for this is that they work to achieve quality, which is what is most appreciated in the market even over volume.

It is in this sense that the country works to differentiate itself by quality and identity. On this path, one of these products is the “Denomination of Origin Cherries from the Valley of the Ancients”, which is in the final stretch so that in 2024 it will become national law. 

Varietal Offer

According to data shared by the Argentine Chamber of Integrated Cherry Producers, CAPCI, the trans-Andean varietal offer is wide. This season has Lapins as the fruit that prevails in the country with 22.0%, followed by Santina with 21.5%. But why this? What are the characteristics that predominate in these varieties and why do they emerge with such a difference compared to other types?

“The predominance of certain varieties is temporary, and responds to two fundamental parameters: seasonality and quality. The emergence of new varieties in search of improving these two axes is modifying the varietal palette in Argentina,” he explains. “Currently Lapins is a variety with many aptitudes to guarantee quality, plastic and productive, accepted in all markets, and as it is mid-season, every cherry forest, regardless of its latitude, includes it in its varietal offer”. These are complemented with earlier varieties such as Royal Dawn, Brooks, Frisco, and year after year the area planted with new varieties increases, such as Nimba, Pacific Red and others that are in the evaluation stage, always with the objective of expanding the supply of early cherries.

On the other side, for late production latitudes, Sweet Heart has been the icon. And while later varieties are sought, the area planted with better quality fruits increases, as is the case of Regina and Kordia, which find their greatest expression in Southern Patagonia.

Local challenges and a view of growth

The challenges in Argentina are often local. Yes, as has been the trend globally, they have faced complex situations, such as the pandemic or climate phenomena, although these have been gracefully overcome. The main task, in the words of the CAPCI member, has to do with an internal look and knowing how to adapt to an industry that does not seem to stand still. “The opportunities are, and will be. Of course, after each year that passes in modern counter-seasonal fruit growing, the market is extremely dynamic and changing, we must constantly reinvent ourselves. Argentina, because of its “country context”, lost a great opportunity, by not fully jumping in the last 10 years, of great expansion, in the business of cherries from the southern hemisphere”.

Now the focus is niche market and because of the volumes handled, their aim is the markets of interest, which has given them good results due to the value given to the local product and the competitiveness it has in those countries. “Argentina does not have a demand problem, if we had 10 times more exportable cherries, they would already be sold, we have a limited supply for the demand we receive annually, this allows us to position ourselves in a different way”. 

Of course, it is important to make it clear that they are always working to open up to new countries. Something that CAPCI and the local government constantly keep in mind, to continue advancing in the Argentine cherry industry.

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