With now only two weeks away from the start of the Chilean cherry season we checked in again with the Vanguard Chilean Cherry team for an update fresh from the field!
The Chilean cherry season will begin in about two weeks and the first variety available to customers will be Royal Dawn. Our first air shipment routed to China will be shipped in week 45 and the first ocean containers will be shipped on the Cherry express service that will depart probably starting week 46 or 47. Here is a closer look at the upcoming Chilean cherry crop:
This year’s production estimate looks to be at least 10% larger than last season, which would equal a volume close to 80mm cartons.
To date, we´ve had good weather in the Chilean region, with September being the month with the highest frost incidence and the industry has come through this period well. Cherry size, condition, and quality are all looking good. In the first two weeks of October weather has been a bit erratic with warm days followed by cold days which is affecting the blossom of later varieties such as Regina.
As cherries are the first fruit to be harvested in the region, we aren’t experiencing any drought concerns. We have no water shortages effecting this years Chilean cherry production..
Labor force continues to be an area of concern. Growers are balancing labor to ensure they to compensate for the higher costs compared with last season. With all that said, most growers have been able to carry out each labor period on time thus far.
With volume, weather and labor checked off the list, the primary concern is the lack of clarity around the “Cherry Express” ocean transportation services this season. It is being reported there is 20% less availability of containers leading to a greater demand. In addition, shipping companies have not yet shared their freight rates for this season which makes budgeting and planning uniquely challenging. The same availability concerns are shared for air shipments for this coming season.
We still have heightened COVID-19 protocols in effect at the airport and there are concerns of departure delays and congestion that could lead to delayed shipments.
In addition, we will be following the new PNRV (Prunus Necrotic Ringspot Virus) testing protocols, both at origin and destination. Exact details on the testing process are not fully transparent at this time, but another hurdle we will navigate this cherry season.