Cherry on the cake? The price fall

By Zhao Manfeng | | Updated: 2024-01-18

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Cherries packed in a supermarket in Shanghai's Xuhui district on February 16, 2023. [Photo provided to]

Recently, the price of cherries has gone viral. The once aristocratic fruit seems to have plummeted from its pedestal overnight. Will people finally achieve cherry freedom this time?

There was a time when "cherry freedom" was considered a standard for people to assess whether they were wealthy. Back then, even white-collar workers in first-tier cities lamented on social media that with a monthly income of over 10,000 yuan($1,389.51), they still couldn't achieve cherry freedom.

Today, the public's enthusiasm for buying cherries continues to soar and reached its peak in the days leading up to 2024 and the Chinese New Year.

Although China has many cherry-producing areas, such as Dalian in Liaoning province and Yantai in Shandong province, due to the limited shelf life and difficulty in transportation, their supply mainly remains local. Most of the high-priced cherries that people hear about come from Chile.

It is understood that Chilean cherries are classified into different grades based on their fruit diameter, including L, XL, J, 2J, 3J, and 4J. The larger the size, the higher the grade and price. Grade 4J is the highest grade, with a fruit diameter of over 30 millimeters, and is also the most expensive.

Xinfadi, Beijing's largest food supply market, has the most authoritative data on cherry prices. Several Xinfadi shop owners have stated that cherries are indeed much cheaper now compared to early November.

Data from the Xinfadi official website shows that on October 31, 2023, Chilean cherries were fetching 200 yuan ($27.79) per half kilogram. Subsequently, the price fell steadily, with an average price of 120 yuan ($16.67) per half kilogram on November 10, dropping to 65 yuan ($9.03) per half kilogram on December 10, and further down to 42.5 yuan ($5.91) per half kilogram on January 10, 2024. In just over two months, the price dropped by nearly 80 percent, almost a "knee-capping" decrease.

The main reasons for the drop in cherry prices are twofold: Ample market supply—As imported cherries continue to arrive, the market supply increases, leading to a change in supply and demand and consequently causing price drops; Intensified competition among e-commerce platforms—During the peak season for winter fruit sales, e-commerce platforms engage in price wars and promotional activities to attract consumers, offering discounts to boost sales, thereby causing a decrease in cherry prices.

Industry insiders have stated that the fall in cherry prices may also be due to other reasons, such as stable quality from the source and increased arrivals.

Today, cherry prices have significantly decreased, allowing consumers to purchase cherries with less financial concern. Consumers can finally realize their wish for "cherry freedom."

For consumers, the sharp drop in cherry prices is a good thing, as they can enjoy this delicious fruit more affordably. However, for fruit hawkers, the price decrease may have a certain impact on their income. Therefore, when formulating pricing strategies, various factors need to be comprehensively considered, including costs, market demand, and competitive conditions.