“Father of Chilean cherries” wins prestigious award

Freshfruitportal.com, an official media partner of the Global Cherry Summit, covered the event in full. One of the articles written by their team of journalists follows.

As a pioneer who helped lead what is now the world’s biggest cherry export industry, Hernán Garcés Echeverría was today given the prestigious Cherry Visionary Award at an international event in Chile.

Hernán Garcés with Gustavo Yentzen (left) and Jim Prevor (right).

Garcés of family company Agricola Garcés was recognized for his work at the first ever Global Cherry Summit, which was held in Sun Monticello, San Francisco de Mostazal.

The award was presented by event organizers Jim Prevor of Phoenix Media and Produce Business Magazine, and Gustavo Yentzen, head of Yentzen Group and founder of Fresh Fruit Portal.

“One of our functions in this world of produce is to search the globe for those people who through their actions create genuine change and progress for our industry,” Prevor told attendees.

“Today’s recipient of the first annual Cherry Visionary Award was actually joining his family’s business just as I was starting Produce Business Magazine in the United States.

“For a long time thereafter I’d hear of him in the background as this quirky person who when everyone was focused on grapes and things like that, had this idea that cherries were the future.”

Prevor said that “lo and behold”, Garcés appeared to know something that neither he nor most people in the industry would have guessed at that time, emphasizing the pioneer’s actions had taught the sector how to work towards a better future.

Yentzen said the cherry industry’s success could be attributed to collective efforts across the supply chain, but without a doubt such progress required vision and leadership.

“That’s why we have created a special recognition for those leaders who have anticipated, taken risks and led a whole industry as an example,” he said.

In comments made to Fresh Fruit Portal, Alejandro Garcia Huidobro of Exportadora Prize described Garcés as the “father of Chilean cherries”.

“When it was a relatively young industry he had to make certain decisions and clearly he was an example to follow when it comes to innovation,” Garcia said.

“Without a doubt he has been a fundamental pillar for the industry to go so well.”

Garcia’s Huidobro’s comments were echoed by another major Chilean cherry exporter, René Wunkhaus of Copefrut.

“I think that Hernán lives with cherries and it is like his leitmotif for everything – for his personal life, for his professional life,” Wunkhaus said.

“This has meant that Hernán has worked in different aspects of the fruit industry to improve post-harvest for cherries working shoulder to shoulder with Unitec, with modified atmosphere packaging companies, and he’s had a leadership role in improving the post-harvest shelf life of cherries,” he said.

“And he keeps doing it.”

The award recipient expressed his surprise at the honor.

“In truth I’m a little bit surprised and thankful for this recognition. This is the achievement of a tremendous company that we have built with a great team – the effort of many people who are behind our vision, innovating, working hard,” he said.

Garcés mentioned it had been almost 20 years since the company exported its first container to Asia, and “since then it hasn’t stopped”.

“We never thought we were going to be where we are, that this industry would be what it is for Chile in terms of the amount of jobs, the amount of wealth it has built and that it is one of the most profitable businesses in the fruit industry of this country,” he said

The conference room was overflowing at the seams today with around 623 participants turning out for the inaugural occasion.

Stay tuned for our ongoing coverage of the event.