A recent protocol signed by China and Turkey revoked the condition that cherries should wait 16 days in cold storage before export, removing one of the biggest obstacles to Turkey's cherry exports to China.
Turkish businessmen have made great efforts to allow cherry, one of Turkey's most important agricultural exports, to enter the Chinese market. The first cherry exports to China took place in August 2017.
"The Phytosanitary Protocol for Exporting Turkish Cherry to China" revoked the condition that the product should wait 16 days at 1 degree Celsius.
The long waiting time for cherry, which has a short shelf life, was the biggest obstacle in front of Turkish entrepreneurs exporting cherries to China. The problem was overcome thanks to some intensive efforts by the Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Turkish Exporters' Assembly (TİM) and their contacts with the Chinese government.
The head of Aegean Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exporters' Association Hayrettin Uçak told Anadolu Agency (AA) that both cherry production and quality are pretty good this year.
He said cherry harvest takes place in various regions around Turkey throughout the summer. Uçak added that they follow all the process regarding all fruits, starting from harvest until they reach consumers.
Uçak said they want to produce healthy fruits that are free of pesticide residues. "We made a great effort to enter the Chinese market for years. We exported cherries worth $26,000 to the country in 2018," he said.
He added that the 16-day period, cited in the previous protocol presented a major challenge in cherry exports. "The new protocol has paved the way for exports. We have made a list of cherry exporters with the necessary qualifications. We have started with 15 companies this season. The fruit is very precious and sold in pieces in China. China is a huge market. With this market fully opened, we will not be dependent on one or two countries in exports," he said.
He said a portion of the cherry exports to China will be made by air cargo, adding that their primary goal is to get a foothold in this market. "We foresee that the country could become the most important market for us in the medium term," he emphasized.
Last year, Turkey sold cherries worth $162 million to 59 countries, including Germany and Russia.