HANFORD, Calif. — In the wake of the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, whether Japan will remain California’s No. 2 export market for cherries seems uncertain.
“It’s an unknown factor whether we’ll have the usual demand from Japan,” said Maurice Cameron, president of Flavor Tree Fruit Co.
Another unknown is whether Japan’s domestic cherry crop has been affected by radiation leaking from the damaged nuclear power plant.
Cameron, who visited cherry growers in Japan in 2010, said part of the uncertainty is whether Japanese growing methods protected the trees from the radiation.
“Lots of Japanese cherries are grown in greenhouses, but many of them are not far from the area hit by the quake,” he said.
Primavera Marketing Inc., Stockton, sells about 25% of its volume to offshore customers, said Richard Sambado, sales manager. He is not overly concerned about exports to Japan this season.
“Time will tell, but I don’t think it’s a big issue,” he said.
Japan had been the No. 1 export market for California cherries, until Canada moved into the top spot in 2007, according to the California Cherry Advisory Board, Lodi.