Local exporters have received extremely positive feedback from China related to Turkish cherries, as exports started in July after a protocol signed by the two countries ended the condition that cherries must wait 16 days in cold storage before export, removing one of the biggest obstacles to Turkish cherry exports to China.
Turkish exporters had been carrying out efforts and concentrating on Chinese markets for years, said Uludağ Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Exporters' Association (UYMSİB) Vice Chairman Senih Yazgan.
Noting that the Chinese market was essential for Turkish exporters, Yazgan said that cherry exports to China started in July with the protocol signed this year, adding the amount was high despite exports starting in the middle of the season.
The long waiting time for cherries, which have a short shelf life, was the biggest obstacle for Turkish entrepreneurs exporting cherries to China. The problem was overcome thanks to some intensive efforts by the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Turkish Exporters' Assembly (TİM) and their contacts with the Chinese government.
"We exported 700 tons of cherries, purified from pests by fumigation, to China. We heard the product was quite appreciated in Chinese market in terms of the quality," Yazgan told Anadolu Agency (AA).
"We think our fumigation values are a little high. Thus, we want to start a new study to increase the shelf life of the product at lower doses considering that we use a large amount of product to eliminate the pests. China was very valuable to us. As of this year, we made a fast entry into China. Had our exports started at the beginning of the season, we would have had the chance to ship our products to the Chinese market at a much higher capacity," he said. Indicating that cherry exports to China have concluded for this year, he pointed to the short shelf life as the only negative feedback from the Chinese market. "Otherwise, all the feedback is extremely positive in terms of quality and taste. Next year, we will increase the figures expressed in thousands of tons," he concluded.
Yazgan asserted that they could not achieve the desired result in cherry exports, especially in Afyonkarahisar, because of the adverse effects of climate. "We received heavy rainfall during the ripening period of cherries. The biggest problem for the cherries is rain and related cracks. We were planning to export to China, especially from Afyonkarahisar, but we remained limited in this region," he said.
On the other hand, Yazgan emphasized that the trade conflict between China and the United States posed an advantage for the Turkish fresh vegetables and fruits sector. "One of the most prominent problems for us was tax obligations," he noted. "The import tax in China was very high. The U.S. remained lower, but due to reciprocal political approaches, it became an advantage for Turkey when customs duties there rose against the U.S. We used it in a very significant way."
Last year, Turkey sold 76,000 tons of cherries worth $162 million to 59 countries, including Germany and Russia. Sector representatives have recently said they aim to reach $200 million this year thanks to the favorable picture for cherry exports.
Turkey exported 65,000 tons of cherries from Jan. 1 to July 10, generating $155.7 million in foreign exchange. In the same period last year, Turkey exported 69,000 tons of cherries worth $152.2 million.