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Chopped maraschino cherries destined for ice cream manufacturers.

Chopped maraschino cherries destined for ice cream manufacturers.

As well as being a major producer and exporter of fresh fruit, Carleti S.A. owns the largest cherry processing company in Argentina, which produces maraschino and preserved cherries and jams for export.

Most of the processed cherries are yellow varieties, such as Royal Ann (also known as Napoleon) and Rainier, which are grown specially for that purpose. Drums of salted brine are taken to the orchards so that the fruit can be put immediately into the brine to conserve it. Culls from fresh cherry production can also be used, but red varieties must be bleached.

During processing, maraschino cherries are destemmed (if the customer requires stemless cherries), then pitted, washed, and cooked with sugar and coloring (red or green, for example). For the cooking process, the company is switching to vacuum concentrators, rather than open tanks, to speed up the process. Finally, flavoring is added.

Some cherries are processed for canned fruit cocktail, and some are chopped for use in ice cream.

The main markets for processed cherries are Brazil and the United States. The price for the finished product is U.S$2.50 to $4.00 per kilo ($1.14 to $1.82 per pound).