A long-distance blueberry

China Cargo Airlines is using its 777Fs to make the long haul from Chile to China.

China Cargo Airlines is using its 777Fs to make the long haul from Chile to China.

After a holiday season spent over-eating, doesn’t the idea of replacing high-calorie desserts with some simple, healthful, fresh fruit sound good?

Of course it does. But the real question isn’t whether you would like some fresh blueberries or cherries this evening, but how far are you willing to go to get them. Or, rather, how far they will have to go to get to you.

If you happen to live in Chile, where summer is well underway, a short walk to the nearest market will give you all the fresh fruit you desire. But if you live in China, you are about as far from a fresh blueberry or cherry as it is possible to be at this time of year.

What does all this have to do with air freight? Until recently, not much. Chile and China are on opposite sides of the globe, and the cost of shipping Chilean produce to China by air was prohibitive. Who could afford a blueberry that had to be flown almost 20,000 km? And who would want to eat a blueberry that had spent almost a month at sea?

The answer to both those questions was, until recently, “almost nobody.” But China today is not the China of yesterday, and on the day after Christmas, a China Cargo Airlines 777F carrying 100 tonnes of Chilean cherries and blueberries landed in Shenyang’s Taoxian Airport (SHE).

Shenyang is the closest major Chinese city to Santiago and, according to a recent story in China’s Xinhua news service, the China Cargo flight (18,500 km, with a stop in Los Angeles) was just the “first of a regular line of charter flights that will bring fresh fruits from Chile to Shenyang.”

We have grown used to thinking of e-commerce as the big story in China’s air freight industry. But while e-commerce may be the big story, it is not the only story. As China’s middle class continues to grow and prosper, more and more blueberries – and other fruits, vegetables, fish, and meat – will be loaded onto airplanes and flown to the Middle Kingdom.

2 Comments

  1. Precisely, David ! And this incontournable fact is the nourrishment conferring economic viability to the UltraFreighter : it creates its own markets ! The tool creates the need creates the market !

    http://media.wix.com/ugd/4f7666_29f8c0a13f0145658116388f6ab386e5.pdf?dn=The%202nd%20Modal%20Revolution%20-%20an%20Apology%20of%20the%20UltraFreighter.pdf

  2. Mark Thiermann says:

    Dear David:
    Chinese have been enjoying fresh Chilean cherries in high volumes for over 3 years now, thanks to the charter flights that Korean Air has been operating for this purpose since 2012.
    Korean Air was the first airline to successfully establish a fast and reliable trade lane between South America and Asia. Currently Korean Air is operating two regular flights from Lima, Peru and one from Santiago, Chile to Inchon, South Korea quick connections to the rest of Asia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.