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Cherry exports grow to match Chinese demand

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Fruit exports from Chile have grown significantly in recent years -- especially due to a growing interest in China for the Latin American country's produce. Paulo Cabral visited one cherry farm that sends the bulk of its harvest across the Pacific to meet the demands of Chinese consumers.

Claudio Vergara has been running his family's cherry production for the last two decades -- as his father did before him.

What is new is the drone that Claudio now uses to monitor and check on his orchards: everything to insure the quality of the produce. All of his production is exported -- 90% of it to China -- and the farmer says Chinese buyers only accept the very best fruits.

"They like bigger, fresh and sweeter cherries. Every year we increase the amount of cherries that we are sending to China and we think this will remain in the future if we send to China our best cherries. We send cherries and we buy drones," Vergara said.

There’s growing concern worldwide with healthier eating and this creates great opportunities for producers of fruits and vegetables.... just been picked.

From being handpicked at the orchard -- the cherries go straight to a refrigerated truck and they have to be kept cold until they reach the shelves around planet.

The same goes for many of the other fresh fruits exported by Chile. According to the Chilean Fruit Producers Federation -- FedFrutas -- fresh fruit exports reached a total of about 1.1 billion dollars last year -- The Cherries were the stars responding for about 600 million US dollars mostly because of Chinese demand. Now Chilean producers are preparing to start also shipments of nectarine to the Chinese market.

The president of FedFrutas -- also a former Chilean ambassador to China -- says farmers here are resolved to see these figures grow even further.

"Today all the growers prepare their producition for exports. In the case or the fruit only 5 to 8% is for internal market. And the rest, 92 to 95% is for export," President of Fedfrutas Luis Schmidt said.

Chile was lucky to have the environmental and geographical conditions to be a prime food producer. And it seems to be displaying also the competence to make the best of it.


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