Chile Scrambles to Regain China’s Confidence on Cherry Imports

Chile, the biggest shipper of sweet cherries, is working to restore confidence among Chinese buyers after social media reports of Covid-19 detections in packaging undermined sales to the Asian nation.

Wholesale purchases of Chilean cherries are down to just 4% of normal levels for this time of year, while retail sales slumped 63% from the previous week, according to Chile’s association of fruit exporters Asoex.

While Chinese state media CCTV ran a story denying new detections in cherry boxes, consumers seem to pay more attention to a slew of posts warning them away from imported food, the association said in a statement. Similar fears upended sales of Chilean salmon and Ecuadorean shrimp to China last year.

Chilean authorities and industry representatives met Monday, agreeing to reach out to Chinese officials as soon as possible to discuss ways to ease fears. Chile will also step up an existing promotional campaign in China.

In 2019, cherries overtook grapes as Chile’s biggest fruit export, with sales of $1.6 billion.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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