Chilean cherry exports had a big year on the basis of a big increase in output and strong exports, particularly to China.

After years of 8.5 million boxes in 2007-08 and 7.5 million boxes in 2008-09, Chilean fruit analysts say that production of cherries went from about 6.5 million boxes in 2009-10 to 11.3 million boxes in 2010-11. Sufficient chilling hours last year helped cherries yield big volume and strong quality. Bearing acreage has been on the upswing.

China has become an increasing important buyer, with numbers from Decofrut indicated China's share of Chilean cherry exports has come up from about 30% in 2008-09 to 45% in 2009-10 to 53% in 2010-11.

Timing worked well for the deal, coming just before the Chinese new year. Shipments of Chilean cherries typically run from the last of November through the middle of January.

Whereas Bing is the variety known in the U.S. growers tend to call all cherry varieties "Bing" when selling to the U.S., such is not the case in China since "Bing" means nothing to the market.

About 90% of all cherries exported from Chile are moved in ocean-going containers and marketed in controlled atmosphere bags.

The U.S. has experienced a strong year for Chilean cherries. USDA AMS statistics show that U.S. cherry imports from Chile through early April totaled 49.59 million pounds, up from 22.86 million pounds a year ago.

Here is a link to all the agricultural export shipments from Chile to the U.S., by month, in the last five years.