Wednesday, 14 February 2024 08:25

Bumper cherry exports in 2024

Written by  Staff Reporters
Southern Fruits International expects to send up to 340 tonnes of luxury cherries to the global market this summer. Southern Fruits International expects to send up to 340 tonnes of luxury cherries to the global market this summer.

New Zealand cherry producer Southern Fruits International expects to send up to 340 tonnes of luxury cherries to the global market this summer - just over double that of the volume sent last year.

It will be the second commercial year on the market for Southern Fruits International's Beyond brand cherries produced at two significant orchard developments spanning more than 160 hectares in Central Otago.

"We've had excellent pre-season interest from existing and developing markets in Asia and new markets in the Middle East and the United States. All the signs are there for a positive season," says company founder and marketing manager Sharon Kirk.

"We took our pre-sale system to (international trade show) Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kng last September and a significant number of buyers took the opportunity to pre-purchase fruit. This confidence in our brand and our fruit puts us in a very good place leading into the season."

Kirk says favourable pre-season conditions and an increase in fruit load due to the trees' maturity contributed to the volume forecast.

"The trees are now three to four years old and about halfway to being in full production," she added. "As they mature, the fruit load increases and, if the weather is kind as it has been so far this year, we are looking at a very promising harvest with exceptional fruit size and brix (sugar content)."

The harvest has started with early varieties and continues until late January or early February, depending on weather conditions.

"Our customers in Asia and fruit available on shelves just in time for Christmas," Kirk says.

"Over the past year, we have been developing various markets within the United States and the Middle East. We have expanded our reach in China, Taiwan and Vietnam, and Thailand is emerging as new market. The Middle East is an exciting market with the opportunity to develop more retail sales in cherry punnets."

Kirk says the Chinese market, which traditionally paid a premium for 30-32mm fruit and 2kg or 5kg boxes, was this year showing more interest in 26mm fruit and 1kg boxes.

The company also supplies its premium cherries to the domestic market via online sales with 1kg, 2kg and 5kg boxes available and sales via Seeka Fresh Ltd which supplies local supermarkets and retailers.

"As New Zealanders associate cherries with Christmas, we launched our online shop so people had beautiful Central Otago cherries on the table for Christmas," she adds. "We've had excellent demand and fruit will continue to be available for online purchase right throughout the season."

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