ANKARA: A major Turkish produce company has carried out its first ever cherry shipment to the recently opened Chinese market, after the export protocols were signed earlier this year. Bursa-based Alara Agri Business sent a trial consignment last week from Istanbul to Guangzhou via airfreight, according to deputy managing director Belit Balci. “This is the first season we have access. The authorization was given in June 2017, but the studies between the Ministries of Agriculture for gaining access go back to 2015,” he told Fresh Fruit Portal.
“We sold a very symbolic amount and the customer is quite happy with what he received, and he sold the fruit in line with the current market conditions. So we are quite happy to start at that level.” Balci said the new market was exciting for the industry, but was cautious over his expectations. “It’s a new market for all parties in Turkey, so before developing certain strategies we need to understand the market in terms of all aspects of requirements,” he said. “After that, the strategy development phase will follow, but it’s too early at the moment to say our expectations.” He added China would help the Turkish cherry industry to diversify away from its leading markets of Europe and Russia. The cherry season in the Mediterranean country is now in its final stages – running from around late May to mid-August – but Balci said it had not been possible to send fruit earlier due to the export protocol. “There is a requirement of 16 days cold store application before sending the product to the Chinese market,” he said “It is quite a tough protocol, but that’s what the market is expecting from shippers from Turkey. “Our own orchards and packhouses are registered by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, and we did the shipment at the end of our season from our latest orchard.”
The cherries were grown at an orchard in the Central Anatolia region and packed in Bursa before being transported to the airport. The trial shipment was made up of the Regina and Kordia varieties, which Balci said initial market research had shown seemed to be among the favored cultivars of Chinese consumers. He commented there was also an increasing trend toward these two varieties among Turkish growers. Alara will continue working on its plans for the Chinese market this year, and hopefully ship higher quantities next season, Balci said.