Terry Chan, director of Dole - Shanghai; Marc Evrard, commercial director of Belgian Fruit Valley and Michael Franks , ceo of Seeka New Zealand.
Chinese imports, exports and service industries are growing year on year. This growth clearly showed at AFL: last year, around 75 Chinese companies participated in the event. This year, that number went up to over 180.
The main drivers behind these developments are a booming import market as well as a maturing service industry and cold chain infrastructure.
China is a large exporter of garlic, ginger, onions, potato, carrots, apples, pears and pomelo. The recent closure of the Indian market for its apple exports is forcing companies to find alternative destinations in Asia. The country’s product offering is also expanding. For example, there are a number of companies specialising in the production and export of lemons, as well as kiwifruit, and this year will see the launch of a number of Chinese Muscat grape brands on the international market.
Imports into China are fast growing year on year. Popular products shipped are cherries from the USA and Canada, avocados from Central and South America, cherries from Peru and New Zealand and citrus from Australia and South Africa. This increase of premium fruits sent to China is one of the major drivers behind the success of Asia Fruit Logistica. More and more companies are entering this market, and the shift seems to increasing move from export-oriented trade houses to import-oriented and service providing companies.
The Freshmax (Australia) team: Jacky Qin, Export Manager Patricia Bowlby, General Manager Will Snell and Export Assistant Manager Pasquale Demaria.
Australia and New Zealand
There were more Australian and New Zealand companies present compared to previous editions. On show were many new apple and orange varieties. Australia and New Zealand are increasingly sending premium products such as apples, pears, cherries and vegetables to China and other Asian markets.
Recently, Europe has been asking for more South African products, but this demand is not always met. South African exporters comment that Europe does not pay the premium prices they can receive from the Middle East or Asia, in particular China. It has even been said that export cannot meet demand coming from Asia from South Africa’s premium fruit exports.
The full team from Riverkin. The company is a large importer of, among other products, cherries into China.
South and Middle America
This year’s Asia Fruit Logistica saw its first Costa Rican pavilion. Since the country has received market access for it pineapples on the Chinese market, over ten export companies were present at the exhibition. There were also more Argentinean, Ecuadorian and Mexican companies present. Recently, a number of new products from Central and South American companies have received first-time access to the Chinese market, and exporters are trying to take full advantage of this. Mexico expects to receive market access for its bananas to the Chinese market in November, and is hoping to start exports next year. Ecuador has negotiated lower taxes in South Korea for its banana exports.
In addition, the presence in Hong Kong of traders from North America, Europe and Australia and New Zealand is also valuable to exporters, as products from the region have a global reach.
Peruvian exporters had problems with El Niño, which has caused a huge drop in grape volumes for the second half of the season. However, it is said that Peru will be sending less blueberries to the North American market to increase its exports to China Mainland.
José Antonio Gómez from Camposol. The company has recently opened an office in Shanghai
Netherlands and Belgium
Similar companies to last year were present at this year’s event. The two products being exported to China are Conference pears and, since last summer, also bell peppers. There is a little friction, as Belgium’s Conference pear exports have turned out to be far more successful than the Dutch exports. Belgian Brussels sprouts, chicory and leaks are also popular in Asian markets such as Japan, Singapore and Taiwan.
Chinese vegetable production is rapidly developing and the expectations are that in the coming few years large new acreages with high-tech vegetable and greenhouse production will be installed and taken into production. Another trend is that next to shipping bell peppers to the Asian and Chinese markets, Dutch traders are investing in local production on the Chinese market. This year, two tomato greenhouse joint-venture projects between Dutch traders and Chinese investors are taken into production.
The Netherlands and Belgium are also significant exporters of high-end machinery and technology to Asia. New Zealand and Australia have been markets that were originally served by local machinery producers. These years, more European exported machines and technology can be found in these far-away destinations. More and more, however, suppliers witness increased competition on price and quality by Chinese manufacturers.
Japan and Korea
There were a growing number of Japanese and Korean stand holders. In the past, the focus was mainly on the countries’ premium fruit exports. This year a number of vegetable varieties were also presented to the audience.
Japanese and Korean companies are gaining a larger presence in neighbouring South-east Asian markets. One of the examples of this are Korean companies that invest in banana plantations in Vietnam for production on the Korean domestic market.
Mohamed Gonbour, Zine Zouggari and Hamdy Ahmed at MasrFruit.
Turkey, Egypt and Greece
Turkish stand holders witnessed large interest by Indian importers asking for fresh apples, probably caused by the market not accepting apples from China this Summer and Autumn. China is traditionally the country’s largest apple supplier.
Chinese interest in Egyptian oranges has proven very strong. Having already run an export season, Egyptian growers are experiencing that demand from Chinese will be very strong. Chinese buyers search for sweet and shiny citrus varieties, with no blemishes on its appearances. Once the fruit looks damaged, it becomes almost unsellable on this market.
Greek stand holders appeared a little unhappy with the number of visitors. The country is trying to push it strawberry exports, but most buyers only know about its kiwifruit production and international sales.
Susan Day, Vice President, and Fabian Garcia, Assistant Director, of the California Table Grape Commission.
United States and Canada
North America is a large supplier of fresh apples, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, citrus and grapes to South-east Asia and the Chinese market in particular. A number of growers and export organisations were present at the exhibition. Demand is China is large, however, returns can be higher and more stable in other countries in the region.
The Canadian cherry production season fell early this year due to warm weather during summer. Exporters focus their shipments on the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is one of China’s largest public holidays traditionally taking place by the Middle of September. The Mid-Autumn Festival is unusually late this year, taking place at the beginning of October, and with shipments ending early, exporters fears to miss this market opportunity.
The Californian Strawberry Committee has been able to register four exporters to export fresh strawberries to China. This year, an additional four to six shipping firms are expecting to receive this access as well.
Italy and Spain
Italy is sending the country’s premium kiwifruit to China and Southeast Asia. The country is hoping to receive market access in China for its fresh apple shipments. Italian grape exporters mentioned that there is a specific demand for the sweet varieties.
Spain is exporting fresh citrus and plums to China, and a number of other products to Hong Kong and other Asian markets. The country was well represented in Hong Kong. The first plum export season took place last year. Initially, there were some problems with the quality, import regulations that had to be met and cold storage requirements. However, exporters, taking into consideration that all beginnings are difficult, are positive about the coming export seasons. Citrus export might be the same. Hampered by extremely cold weather late in the season in Spain and a number of strikes in major Spanish ports earlier in the year, exporters are positive about the new season to come.