Where Do Cherries Grow?

A cherry orchard in Traverse City, Michigan.
A cherry orchard in Traverse City, Michigan.

The largest producers of cherries today are Turkey and the United States. Cherries are a popular fruit and are consumed heavily throughout the world. While the US and Turkey produce predominately sweet cherries, Eastern and Southern Europe produce some of the largest outputs of sour cherries.

Turkey Leads the Way

Turkey is the largest producer of cherries, with nearly 500 thousand metric tons of cherries produced over the course of the last year. Turkey follows behind Chile in terms of exports, coming in 3rd, with the majority of them going towards the Russian Federation and members of the European Union. Earlier, harvesters of cherry in Turkey did not employ modern methods and tactics to grow the plant but, with recent developments, they have been able to increasingly utilize modern techniques for harvesting, along with lengthening their harvest season, for better production. Turkey has the largest plantation area for cherries, followed by the United States and Italy in 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Over 60% of exports made by Turkey remain in the European Union, which is similar to the case with Spain.

Cherry Marketing in the US

The United States is one of the largest exporters of cherries in the world, and the second largest producer after Turkey. The US maintained a position as the largest producer worldwide until the last decade, when it was surpassed by Turkey. The United States depends on domestic consumption along with exports for maintaining its cherry industry’s viability. Advertising is one of the major factors for the ongoing success of cherries in the United States. Various displays and audio advertisements highlight the various health benefits of cherries, which promote the sales to a great extent.

Erratic Chilean Cherry Exports

Chilean harvesters have improved their efficiency to produce cherry crops within shorter durations of time, and have acted on good export opportunities as well. The Chilean agricultural sector is the 6th largest cherry producer in the world, recently being surpassed by Italy and Spain. Chile is also the 2nd largest exporter of cherries in the world, falling behind only the United States in shipments. Also among the world’s leading cherry consumers, Chile boasted a production of over 80 thousand tons of cherries in the last year. Previously, Chile depended on the United States and Europe to produce most of its cherries.

The Spanish Cherry Export Trade

Spain produces a good amount of cherries but can only enter the export market at later stages as the first produced variety Rita is not capable of being transported due to its susceptibility to cracking. Spain is the 5th largest exporter of cherries behind Hong Kong, which focuses on further exporting them to other countries instead of consumption. Spain mainly relies on the European Union for exports, with 25% of its total export being made to the United Kingdom in 2013. Since Hong Kong raises a great demand for cherries as well, Spanish companies are focusing on producing high quality cherries which can be transported easily to Hong Kong.

Cherries: A Complex Global Market

While cherry growing, consumption, and exports are closely related, they are not perfectly correlated. Indeed, places like Hong Kong have high per capita cherry consumption, with limited access to commercial cherry markets in nearby countries and no space to grow the fruits therein. As the global cherry market becomes more intertwined and foreign tastes are increasingly picked up by domestic palates, differentiating between the cherry buying, selling, and growing sectors will become increasingly important.

Cherry Production By Country

RankCountryProduction in Tonnes
2United States of America329,852
3Iran 172,000
9Russian Federation77,000
13Syrian Arab Republic54,211
17China, mainland34,492

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