Without any doubt, the main issue of these days has been the rumor circulating in China related to Covid-19 presence on Chilean cherries. Major fruit wholesale markets have experienced a few days of almost “zero movement”, and only on 26 January did the markets finally start to move. The price is showing an upward trend, and although the price is still very low, it is rising day by day.
Last week, the inner packaging of a batch of imported cherries was found to be COVID-19 positive in Wuxi. A total of 199 samples from the related environment, objects and personnel have been tested, all returning negative results. However, when this news was spread on Weibo, it generated tons of discussions and some customers were concerned about covid-19 infection, and expressed that they would prefer to wait for some time before purchasing imported cherries again. This has dramatically affected the movement and prices of imported cherries in the Chinese wholesale market.
From 22 January till 25 January, almost no pallets were traded in the two biggest fruit wholesale market in China, Jiangnan and Huizhan. This has never happened before. The situation has got better since 26 January. Julio Ruiz-Tagle is the Asia & Latin America Manager at the quality service provider D-Quality Survey. He shared with us his view and introduced to us the measures taken at each stage of the Chilean cherry supply chain.
“We are very glad to see that many Chinese governmental campaigns are helping to clarify this rumor on TV and other official media channels. For example, a report on Chinese state TV channel CCTV said that there is no risk of contracting Covid-19 from consuming cherries, which helped to allay the concerns of Chinese consumers. And from the Chilean side, the ASOEX, the cherry committee and Federation of Fruit Producers also put lots of effort in recovering consumers’ confidence. I can feel that little by little, buyers’ trust in imported cherries is increasing and some pallets are starting to be sold, followed by a few complete containers.”
“Maybe consumers do not know, but the import cherry sector has very strict measures at each step of the process. In the orchard and factory, staff are all wearing masks and keep distance from each other. During processing, firms are following governmental sanitary protocols. Fruits have to go through the washing and sterilization process before they are exported. When ready for export, fruits are kept in reefer containers for almost 40 days. Viruses have difficulty surviving such cold temperatures for a long time. Fruit quality is closely monitored throughout the whole logistic process. After arriving in the port, products have to go through multiple times of covid-19 checking by custom, and when entering the wholesale market.” Julio said.
With the growing export volume, importers and consumers have more concerns about fruit quality and market conditions. An increasing number of companies adopt quality control services, in order to deliver cherries to China in the best possible condition. “As a quality survey company, in China we have detected the opportunity and we have been developing representation services which is giving us the possibility to make sales and prices monitoring in every Chinese market and control stocks as well as participate in different steps of the fruit trade apart from quality.
Regarding quality, these few years we have been developing a new survey APP (iOS/Android) where we upload all the quality reports. Our clients can get an overview of every shipment, so they will have enough time to plan a commercial strategy. In addition to the “produce quality APP”, we continue to provide our well-known quality consultancy service in China and the rest of Asia, Europe and the Middle East. We offer our customers quality data for the continuous improvement of fresh fruit.”
“Several years ago, only I was involved in our company’s China business, we now have a team of more than 10 people providing services in Asia and Chile. The expansion of our team also represents the increase in trade volume and the growth of importers’ attention for quality control issues.”
When considering all these measurements and the sectors’ attention, personally I think the “covid-19 on cherry” is just a rumor. As a fruit consultancy services provider, we want to spread knowledge about quality issues and inform consumers about all the measures taken at every stage of the supply chain, and help consumers regain trust in imported cherries.
Julio Ruiz-Tagle (Asia & Latin America Manager)
Phone: +56992500021 (Chile Phone) / +8613229312404 (China Phone/Whatsapp/Wechat)