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China boasts more than 4,000 wholesale markets

The China Agriculture Wholesale Market Association (CAWA) has members in all provinces and municipalities. The trade volume of its member markets accounts for 70% of the national total.

China’s 20 Tier 2 cities consume about half of the country’s imported food.

There are over 4,000 wholesale markets spread across Chinese cities, but the large wholesale markets are located in western China or provincial capital cities. Chinese wholesale markets are usually comprehensive in nature, offering products ranging from vegetables, fruit, meat, seafood, grains and oil, dried seasoning and flowers. Depending on the varieties of products, both domestic and imported products can be found in those markets, but domestic products account for a significant proportion. Some markets have a relatively higher percentage of imported fruits, such as the Jiangnan Market in Guangzhou with 70%-80% of its fruit from overseas. As another example, the Huizhan Market in Shanghai is entirely devoted to wholesale trade in imported fruit.

In contrast, foreign fruit accounts for just a small share of trade in other markets, usually just 20%-30%. While all the other Chinese wholesale markets sell imported fruit, not all is sourced from direct importers.

Major events in China this year

The China Agriculture Wholesale Market Association (CAWA) has members in all provinces and municipalities. The trade volume of its member markets accounts for 70% of the national total. All of the top 200 wholesale markets in China are members of CAWA. The association is holding the 8th China (Zhengzhou) International Agricultural Products Trade Fair and 2015 China (Zhengzhou) International Organic Food & Green Food Expo from November 27 to 29 this year at the International Exhibition Center in Zhengzhou city, Henan province. This event, with the theme of “Green, Health and New Normal”, will build on the success of the previous seven expos. Both domestic and overseas agro-products producers, distributors and purchasers are invited to the expo in Zhengzhou. During the Expo, CAWA will also host events including the 2015 editions of: China International Internet Plus Modern Green Agricultural Action Plan Seminar, China International Internet Plus Agro-products Brand Story Micro Film Contest, 8th China (Zhengzhou) International Agro-products Trade Fair Award Ceremony, China International Green Produce & Organic Produce Purchaser Conference, Round Table Conference on International Food Trade Cooperation, International High-quality Food Purchasing Information Session, Henan High-quality Food Purchasing Information Session.

CAWA helping promote international trade

As a member of the World Union of Wholesale Markets, CAWA actively promotes international trades in fresh agricultural products. It has cooperation agreement with over 20 government institutions and export associations in order to jointly promote international trade based on the platform of wholesale markets through regular information exchange, trade mission comprised of purchasers and participation in each other’s events. 

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15th China (Guangzhou) International Food Exhibition attracts nearly 63,000 professional visitors

china expo

The 15th China (Guangzhou) International Food Exhibition And Guangzhou Import Food Exhibition 2015 was held June 4-6 in the China import and export fair complex and attracted 1,378 exhibitors from 58 countries and areas.

There were 858 domestic exhibitors, 520 overseas exhibitors and more than 15,000 exhibition products. as well as 62,725 visitors, of which 15,893 were from overseas.

The expo was jointly organised by the China import and export fair complex, the Chinese Cereals And Oils Association Oil and Fat Processing Sub-Association, the Guangzhou Import Food Quality Management Association and Guangzhou Yifan Exhibition Service Co., Ltd.

With an area of 4,9390 sqm, the exhibition included an international imported & exported food hall, healthy food hall, organic food and rice hall, edible oil and olive oil hall, imported wine and spirit hall, high-end drinking water hall, coffee and drinks hall, food machinery, cereals and oils machinery areas. Among the exhibitors were well-known companies and growing companies displaying their new products.


IFE 2015 On site Report:

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Berries could help astronauts offset the ravages of outer space

Berries are the basis of a special high-vitamin food developed by China’s Harbin Institute of Technology to help protect astronauts from the extreme conditions of outer space.

Berries feature in a special high-vitamin food to help keep astronauts healthy during long stints in space.

The advent of space stations means longer periods beyond Earth and thus more exposure to extreme conditions – including the effects of space radiation and microgravity. But Chinese scientists says they have developed a vitamin supplement compressed food that will help keep space travellers well and that tastes good, too.

China’s Harbin Institute of Technology – which has unique programs in the field of astronautics – is seeking a patent for the food, which is prepared from freeze-dried blueberry, honeysuckle, strawberry, raspberry, kiwifruit and blackcurrant powder.

It says in its patent application that these fruits are rich in vitamins and a low-temperature compressing technology is used to ensure the vitamins are not destroyed during processing.

“Because blueberries, indigo honeysuckle, strawberries, raspberries, kiwifruits, blackcurrant and other berries are used as the raw materials for preparing the special compressed food, …(it) can supplement the vitamins and other nutrients and also can well prevent a series of physiological changes of the astronauts due to the change of radiation intensity and gravity in space under long-term flight in extreme conditions, and particularly the extreme-environment induced oxidative damage to the bodies of the astronauts,” it says in the application, published by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are also among fruits NASA lists as among its baseline space shuttle food.

The issue of astronaut nutrition was in the news this week with images of astronauts eating red romaine lettuce grown aboard the International Space Station as part of NASA’s VEG-01 experiment (nicknamed “VEGGIE”).

Image: Computer-generated artist’s rendering of the completed International Space Station (2006), by NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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Peru’s fruit and vegetable sector leads its non-traditional exports

Peruvian products have high-quality standards and are conquering new markets.

Peru produces fruit and vegetables of excellent quality throughout the year. With delicious taste, colour and aroma, they are strategically exported in off-season periods to the northern hemisphere.

The fresh fruit and vegetable industry is the most dynamic of the non-traditional export industries. Due to the nature of the market, it generates a whole chain of value in related services, including logistics, cold chain, certifications, and supplies amongst others; creating jobs and infrastructure.

Peruvian products also meet the quality and safety standards required by their customers. Companies are certified with international standards such as ISO, HACCP, TESCO and BRC. They also meet the strict standards of good agricultural practices (GLOBAL.G.A.P.) under the supervision of health authorities in the major markets. These efforts are in addition to the continued improvement of production processes and services by applying cutting-edge technology.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Peru recently announced the signing of the protocol for Hass avocado access to the Chinese market, which in the short term will mean additional exports of about 11,500-16,100 tons of this product. This would result in further revenues of US $30 million-50 million every year.

In 2014 about 199,000 tons of Hass avocados were exported and the growth rate was 40% per year, so the signing of this protocol represents a great opportunity for farmers.

Peru has become specialised in the cultivation of fruit and vegetables that are exported fresh and processed to niche markets demanding high quality. Hence, the training of human resources in tasks such as sorting and processing is continuously improving. Thanks to these advances, Peru is the world’s leading exporter of asparagus and paprika, and occupies the top spot in other premium products.

Finally, in the case of grapes, a very important market for this fruit has been found in the Chinese market, especially during the Lunar New Year period, currently taking 13% of Peruvian exports.

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Chinese and Catalan collaboration on agri-food industry

The Chinese province of Fujian and Catalonia to collaborate on agri-food matters.

A delegation from the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian, including the head of its Department of Agriculture, Jiang Shaofeng, visited Fruits de Ponent last week.

They toured the trading cooperative’s facilities in Lleida, as well as learning about the company’s fruit production, packaging and marketing. Fruits de Ponent said the visitors showed interest in exporting its fruit to China.

Plan to increase Catalan trade with China

The visit was organised by Prodeca, which promotes the Catalan agri-food industry, and was one of a series of activities it hosted for the delegation over July 1-3. As part of its China Plan, Prodeca aims to increase Catalonia’s trade with Asia in food and other agricultural products.

During its visit, the Chinese delegation signed a memorandum of understanding with Catalan government representatives designed to foster cooperation and mutual assistance between them in the agri-food industry area, and closer institutional collaboration.

Fruits de Ponent (source of photos) 

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Carrefour expands convenience format in Shanghai

Carrefour launched its second Easy Carrefour store in Shanghai on June 30. The new proximity format store is located on Chaling North Road, Xuhui District.

Carrefour launched its second Easy Carrefour store in Shanghai on June 30.

The new proximity format store is located on Chaling North Road, Xuhui District.

In a press release, the French retail group said its Easy Carrefour format “is an innovation as well as a breakthrough in profitable mode. In recent years, Carrefour has been trying various ways to open up a larger market, including eCommerce and convenient stores,” it said.

Carrefour’s proximity stores sell takeaway food

Easy Carrefour stores cover up to 280m2, with two levels. The first floor offers fast food, cooked food, dairy products, salads, and semi-cooked food, as well as shampoo and washing powder and some French brands. On the second floor there is an open space with free Wi-Fi  where customers can stay for a rest or to have a meal, Carrefour said.

China expected to be growth leader

On announcing its third quarter results last year, Carrefour said it was continuing its expansion in China despite “a frugal consumption environment.”

Carrefour was the first retailer to open a hypermarket in China – in 1995, in Beijing. It now manages about 240, across 73 cities there.

A hypermarkert opened by Carrefour in China in December

Carrefour CEO Georges Plassat has said Carrefour plans to continue expanding its market share in China, focusing on “newly developing urban areas.” Both China and Brazil “will continue to be growth leaders for the future. Income levels will increase substantially in emerging countries, which should bolster our business over the medium term.”

According to China Daily USA, Carrefour is expected to open 15 new hypermarkets in China this year and roll out more convenience stores.

source: Carrefour

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How Australia is tapping fresh produce opportunities in China

"Australia is in quite a nice position to be able to segment the market by focussing on being a niche market player rather than getting caught up against the big volume suppliers."

The importance of suppliers building long term trade relationships with China and adapting to its customers’ tastes was recently stressed by Loren Zhao, co-founder of the country’s rapidly-expanding online fruit retailer, Fruitday.

Speaking as part of the London Produce Show breakfast panel, Zhao singled out Australia and New Zealand as countries doing a good job in this regard. He said that in the future, China “will be consuming most of the global produce” and he said it is looking to these suppliers, which he said are already focusing on India and China. “It’s very important to grow products with the Chinese customer in mind.”

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Zhao said the US and Australia are spending a lot of money in order to change their fruit varieties and grow newer ones in response to demand from Chinese customers. “We see that they also want to invest for the market for us.”

“A lot of exporters just want to trade and they want to sell everything to China but other exporters want to cooperate…like Zespri and Sunkist,” he added.

Promising export future: Australian table grapes and citrus

Speaking to ED at the London show, PMA Australia-New Zealand CEO Michael Worthington said table grapes are a good example of where Australian growers are adapting to Chinese tastes.

“Australia is producing a lot of very good quality red and black grapes which the Chinese love. Crimson seedless has been a very successful variety, because it’s obviously seedless but it also has good Brix. There are some black grapes coming on to the market that have got a very high brix, so very much going for sweetness, which suits the Chinese palate,” he said

The Chinese very much buy on colour and a sweet taste, so I think Australia is in quite a nice position to be able to segment the market by focussing on being a niche market player rather than getting caught up against the big volume suppliers such as Chile” he said.

“On the citrus side, the Australian navel quality is very good – probably the best in the market – and well-recognised in China, and some of the mandarins that Australia is now producing also fit in very well with Chinese consumers because of their good colour and flavour.”

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“Another real positive is that grapes and citrus fit very well with online sales – you can make nice convenience packs of table grapes. And with online sales booming in China, this is a great area for a niche marketer such as Australia to supply.”

Aussie Cherries also popular in China

Tasmanian cherries provide another example of Australian fresh produce fitting very well with Chinese tastes, Worthington said. “Tasmanian cherries tend to be larger size, very high quality and coming from grower-marketers of a small enough scale that they can go very niche as opposed to being a mass supplier that’s always trying to shift big volumes.”

Hopes FTA will see new protocols expedited

Worthington said it’s hoped the recently signed free trade agreement between China and Australia will speed up quarantine protocols allowing more fruit varieties to be traded between the countries.

“There’s a number in the pipeline both ways, such as stonefruit from mainland Australia and I am confident that as direct trade builds up (as opposed to the traditional “grey channel” supply into China via Hong Kong), we will see more vegetable lines, such as broccoli and carrots, and products such as mangoes and avocadoes exported out of Australia.”

Efficient distribution: key to success in e-retail

On online sales, he said China is doing very well in its ability to get the produce to consumers. “I think in a lot of other countries, particularly western ones, that last mile of logistics is the biggest challenge to growing online sales, whereas in China they’ve got these multiple small distributors on motorbikes and bikes and everything else that can get the product to the consumer.

“It’s a mixture of finding the right product, that is of a high enough value, matched with a distribution system that’s very much more efficient, as opposed to trying to look at it just purely as a price point and keeping the cost of an online sale at or below what you’d pay if buying in a supermarket,” he said.


Relief map of Australia by Hans Braxmeier ( [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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US nearly triples its fresh vegetable imports from China

The United States’ imports of fresh vegetables from China grew 185% in value to $214.3 million in the five years to 2013, a report by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows.

The United States’ imports of fresh vegetables from China grew 185% in value to $214.3 million in the five years to 2013, a report by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows.

Though off a much smaller base, the value of its its fresh fruit imports from China also grew over the same period, rising 61% to $21.8 million.

Meanwhile, in the opposite direction, the value of fresh fruit imports from the US by China rose 116%, to $119.5 million, and that for vegetables 719% to $3.84 million.

According to the report “China’s Growing Demand for Agricultural Imports”, China has overtaken Japan, Mexico, and Canada to become the leading export market for US agricultural products. Projections by the USDA and other sources anticipate continued growth in Chinese agricultural imports through 2023.

As for China’s agricultural exports, they are mainly labor-intensive, high-value (per unit of land) products that often require processing. US vegetable imports from China include garlic and mushrooms.

source: USDA

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A look inside China’s premium fruit e-tailer Fruitday

E-commerce’s exponential growth in China is highlighted by that of its top online fresh fruit retailer – the premium fruit specialist Fruitday – last year doubled its 2013 turnover to 500 million Chinese yen (€74.6 million).

E-commerce’s exponential growth in China is highlighted by that of its top online fresh fruit retailer – the premium fruit specialist Fruitday – which last year doubled its 2013 turnover to 500 million Chinese yen (€74.6 million).

Fruitday began just six years ago in Shanghai and now has 4 million customers and covers more than 300 Chinese cities. It’s enjoying very strong growth but even so sees potential for much more. After all, explained Fruitday co-founder Loren Zhao, its own sales currently account for only about 5% of the total fresh produce market in China.

Speaking from Beijing, Zhao told ED that another interesting facet of Fruitday’s orders is they are increasingly being made via mobile devices. “About 70% of our daily sales revenue now comes from use of our mobile application,” he said. Peak times for orders used to be 9am, when people first went online in the morning, lunchtime, and then 7-8pm, when they came home. But now they are spread over 24 hours with people also ordering from the bus or subway.

Young people are the main customers

In the last decade, China has enjoyed the fastest e-commerce growth rate in the world. Fruitday’s customers are mainly young people who have become used to getting their fruit online “as long as we guarantee consistent and high quality fruit,” Zhao said. It’s not because they’re lazy or don’t have enough time, it’s because e-commerce became reliable and they trust it to deliver lower prices, higher quality, and safe food. Because parents are often buying fruit for their children, food safety is particularly important in China, he said.

Given food imported into China is already subject to a lot of checks and certification, Fruitday does not feel a need to enforce extra ones, but does guarantee that all its imported fresh fruit – which makes up 90% of the fresh fruit it sells – is imported officially, Zhao said.

How direct marketing makes it easy to manage the supply chain

Among the big pluses in e-commerce is businesses can closely tie their inventory planning and pre-sale marketing to end customers, something Zhao said is the case at Fruitday, which imports its fruit itself. “If we want to import 10 containers of oranges we make a marketing plan so that in one month we can sell all of them. We can easily target customers directly because we don’t rely on other distributors, wholesale markets or supermarkets.”

“But we do need to do a lot of market research and data analysis to ensure our plan is accurate,” he said. That’s very important because while Fruitday has invested a lot in hardware such as warehouse facilities, the reality is fruit – apart from produce such as apples and citrus – generally doesn’t stay fresh long, he noted.

Logistics is a challenge in China and something we “still need to improve,” Zhao said. In Shanghai and Beijing Fruitday has  its own logistics platform but in other cities cooperates with third parties.

Most popular fruits

Fruitday is a supplier of premium fruit and unlike the traditional market for fresh fruit and vegetables in China – where the most popular fruits are table grapes, bananas and apples – its biggest-selling fruits are cherries, kiwifruit and oranges, Zhao said. “Our main customers are people aged 30-35 with kids and they like to try new things.”

Cherries are a new product in China and delicious but expensive in most cities, but through our web site people can easily get them at a lower price, which makes them very popular,” Zhao said, adding that it’s estimated that nearly 7% of cherries imported by China last year were sold by Fruitday.

As for kiwifruit, the entrepreneur said it’s popular for Chinese parents to give their children one every day, so sales are frequent. An estimated 11 million trays of Zespri kiwifruit from New Zealand were imported into China last year and Fruitday is believed to have sold about 650,000 of them – about 6% of the total.

Its oranges are sourced from around the world, including the Sunkist brand from California; from European growers such as in Spain, Egypt and Cyprus; and in the Southern Hemisphere from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Future fruit superstars in China: berries

But while cherries, kiwifruit and oranges are the current “superstars” of sales for Fruitday, Zhao said fruits showing potential to join them are berries, including blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. “We see the market just beginning, especially for blackberries and raspberries. We’ve had blueberries in China for 5-6 years but just since last year we’ve been importing other berries (blackberries and raspberries) from Mexico and we can see huge demand.”

Also showing strong growth is the durian, a tropical fruit mainly imported from Thailand and Malaysia “and very popular in China now.” And lemon sales are growing, too, helped by the popularity in China of using it in tea.

Exploring new sources for stone fruit and melons

Zhao said Fruitday has been lucky to be on the scene in the last 2-3 years as China expands the list of fruits that may be imported into the country, such as pears from New Zealand, the US and the Netherlands. Customers are now starting to accept the different taste of these pears, which – unlike the Asian pear predominantly grown in China and eaten when still tough and crisp – are eaten when ripe and soft.

On stone fruit, he said China does not allow much to be imported but the most popular is the plum, which so far may only be imported from Chile and from California. Zhao said this year China will also be open to stone fruit from Australia for the first time but he was not sure yet if only plums would be included or also nectarines, peaches or other stone fruit. ”We have a plan to promote that with Australian growers.”

As for watermelon, China already grows a lot but Fruitday is looking to also source from tropical countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam where the season starts sooner.

Main overseas suppliers: the US, New Zealand and Chile

About 90% of the fruit the company sells is imported directly by it, with its main sources being the US, New Zealand and Chile. Zhao sees strong potential for growth in supplies from Mexico, given how fast Chinese demand for avocado, blackberries and raspberries is expanding. He also said the free trade agreement between China and Southeast Asian nations spells opportunities for increased imports from countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Laos.

Vegetables: only cherry tomatoes for now

Fruitday may expand into vegetables in the future but for now needs to focus on its advantage in the fruit segment, said Zhao, who explained that the logistics for vegetables are different to that for fruit. While some of the fruit it sells can be stored for 1 or even up to 3 weeks, some vegetables can only be stored for 1-2 days. For instance, leafy greens are the most popular vegetables in China and can easily to rot in just a day, he said.

Fruitday does, however, sell clamshells of cherry tomatoes, which are used for both cooking and eating fresh in China.

Customer buying habits

Fruitday has lot of new customers so the average purchase rate overall is not very high but its longer-term customers tend to make an order at least once every 2 months. “Since we are not providing all products, just premium fruit, maybe they still need to go to the market for vegetables and other fruit and so on, Zhao said. But he said Fruitday can see a trend of its clients coming to rely on it: “They get used to high quality and delicious fruit and then don’t go back to traditional stores.”

“It’s very important for them to try us the first time so we have different kinds of promotion methods but the most useful is to get to try the first time at a low price or even free,” he said. “Any time don’t like it they can return it to us in 48 hours. The fruit is sold by unit numbers rather than weight, for instance 12 apples rather than 1-2 kg, but the size and weight of each type of fruit is consistent – the same colour, size and weight – so customers know what to expect. And Fruitday’s end-to-end service ensures customers receive their fruit within one day of ordering.


This is an article from edition 137 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that issue online here.

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The US Pear Bureau enters Chinese market

China may become one of the 5 biggest markets for American pears.

“Russia has previously been one of our top-3 largest markets, after Canada and Mexico. Overall, our exports this season to date have decreased by just 10%,” says Lynsey Kennedy, International Marketing Manager of Pear Bureau Northwest Company (USA).

“Another challenge this season has been the growth of the dollar rate in different markets, which has increased the prices for imported products. At the same time, the sales of pears in the domestic market have been good; and we managed to successfully diversify our sales, including exports to China, which has helped balance our trade.”

Indeed, the exports to China just started in 2013, and by now, the results of sales are very positive, and Kennedy believes the country may become one of the 5 biggest markets for American pears.

Other top target markets are Colombia, India and the UAE; some small volumes are shipped to Scandinavian supermarkets, but being that the pear production is so large in Europe – as well as the abundance of fruit in the market due to the Russian ban – American fruits have been more competitive in the Asian markets and Latin America.

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Pear Bureau Northwest, established in 1931, is a non-profit marketing organisation to promote and develop markets for fresh pears grown in Oregon and Washington, distributed under the USA Pears brand. Combined, these two states comprise the nation’s largest pear producing region (84% of all fresh pears grown in the US). They also account for 92% of America’s fresh pear exports.

Pear Bureau Northwest represents 1,600 growers and 50 packers and shippers.