Turkey has exported cherries to China for the first time, said İhsan Beşer, chairman of Anadolu Kiraz.
The exports were made under the 2013 Food Security Agreement and the 2015 Plant Health Protocol signed by Turkey and China.
In China's crowded cities, such as Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing, people consume a large quantity of cherries, Beşer said.
Turkey recently received a permit to export cherries to China after almost eight years of technical and diplomatic work, as well as negotiations between Turkish exporters and Chinese authorities.
"China imports cherries mostly from Chile, the U.S., Canada and Australia," Beşer noted.
In Chile, the cherry season ends in April, but in Turkey it starts in May. "Chile is not a rival of Turkey," he underlined.
As part of the first cherry exports, the company sent 4 tons of cherries to four customers in China, according to the Anadolu Kiraz chairman. "They will be sold in big markets and online stores. We expect more orders next year," he said.
Getting off to a good start this season, Turkish cherry exports reached 61,000 tons by the end of June, surpassing last year's export performance.
Data from the Uludağ Exporters' Association (UİB) reveal that Turkey's cherry exports that began at the end of April, hit 61,000 tons, a 53 percent increase, compared to the same period last year. The value of cherry exports rose to $137.5 million from $109.3 million, a 26 percent increase. Last year, Turkey exported a total of 59,000 tons of cherries.
The highest export figure was in 2016: 78,700 tons with revenue of $182.7 million.
Exports may hit a record high this year, some 85,000 tons with a value of $200 million, according to officials.
Turkey ranks first in cherry production and third in exports globally.