China is expected to increase imports of Turkish Cherries this year as part of efforts to further bilateral economic and trade ties between the two Countries, Industry Officials said on Monday.

Cherry imports to China have been growing steadily in the last few years and Turkey is expected to account for a large portion this year, they said.

Turkish fruit retailer Goknur & Shanghai-listed State-owned major juice producer SDIC Zhonglu Fruit Juice Co Ltd recently inked an agreement under which the latter will distribute Turkish cherries in China through online and offline channels.

“SDIC Zhonglu Fruit Juice has been cooperating with Goknur for more than a decade in juice processing, and the transaction value between the two sides has exceeded 100 million yuan ($14.3 million) annually,” said Du Wenmin, Vice President of State Development & Investment Corp.

Last year, cherries were the second-largest imported fruit into China. In 2019, China imported more than 190,000 metric tons of cherries, and the import value stood at $1.4 billion. Most of the imports were from Chile and the United States, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Turkey produces about 500,000 tons of cherry annually and is the top nation in terms of volume. With favourable geographical conditions and climate, cherries produced in Turkey are sweet and plump. They also carry a cheaper price tag compared to peers, Turkish officials said.

The China market is now open to the large majority of the Turkish cherry crop, and imports are expected to rise significantly over the coming seasons, with the removal of requirements last year that cherries exported from Turkey to China should undergo a 16-day cold treatment period. Now, Turkish cherries can arrive in China as quickly as 12 hours after picking.

“China is showing an increasing demand for midrange to high-end fruits, and the business opportunity for fruit imports is becoming more promising”

Said Cao Derong, President of the China Chamber of Commerce of Import and Export of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal By-Products.

“The main commodities imported from Turkey to China include nuts, vegetables, aquatic products, vegetable oils and fruits. Sino-Turkish cooperation in agricultural products will play an important role in advancing the Belt & Road Initiative,” Cao said.

Last year, the value of agricultural products between China and Turkey reached $700 million, up 26 percent year-on-year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Turkish cherries are expected to travel through the Eurasian continent and arrive in China, taking regular cargo flights.

Currently, China is the second-largest trading partner of Turkey and its largest source of imports, according to the Ministry of Commerce.