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Why and how the Chinese plan to eat more potatoes

China’s bid to make potatoes the country’s fourth most important staple crop – after rice, wheat and corn – is motivated by food security and sustainability concerns, explains Euromonitor International.

China’s bid to make potatoes the country’s fourth most important staple crop – after rice, wheat and corn – is motivated by food security and sustainability concerns, explains Euromonitor International in an article by contributing analyst Simone Baroke.

China is already the world’s biggest market for fresh potatoes. The London-based market-research firm’s data shows that with a volume of 39 million tons last year, it accounted for 23% of total global potato consumption.

But, explains Baroke, the Chinese Government “has decided that its people need to eat more potatoes in order ease pressure on the country’s scarce agricultural resources.” According to the article, by 2020 the area allotted to potato cultivation in China will be doubled to 10 million ha (100,000 km2).

“The data also show that on the whole fresh potatoes are not doing too badly in China. In 2014 they achieved volume gains of almost 6%, double the rate registered by overall starchy roots in the country. Sweet potatoes, the next most “dynamic” type of starchy root, mustered a sluggish 1%,” Baroke said.

Chinese Government efforts to enthuse consumers about potatoes include messages about their nutritional value on Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter), and the sharing of recipes and promotion of discussion of potatoes’ merits as an ingredient in various dishes.

Read the Euromonitor International article here.



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Opening new Asian markets a priority for Spanish exporters

Entering new markets in China and other Asian countries such as Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea a priorities for Spanish fresh produce exporters.

China and other Asian countries such as Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea are priorities for negotiations to open up new markets, says Spain’s exporter federation Fepex.

But at a meeting of its Working Group on Fruit and Vegetables in Madrid this week – to discuss an Internationalization plan – product-country specific protocols with contain very strict phytosanitary requirements were identified as the main barrier faced by fruit and vegetable producers and exporters.

Meanwhile, attendees were informed that that a proposed protocol with China for the export of peaches and plums from Spain is currently being assessed by the Chinese authorities.


Read Fepex’s report on the meeting in Spanish.


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Huge demand in China for fresh fruit, says CIQA president

There is huge domestic market demand for fresh fruit in China, according to Ge Zhirong, president of China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Association (CIQA) and former vice minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China (AQSIQ)

Interview with Ge Zhirong, president of China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Association (CIQA) and former vice minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China (AQSIQ – China’s customs and quarantine authority).


How many countries have now been approved for import fresh fruit approved, reviewed or amended by China ?

As at October 2014, fruit from 35 countries/regions had been approved for export to China, covering Asia, Europe, North and South America, Australia and Africa. Among the EU countries which have obtained market access are France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Greece and the Netherlands.

AQSIQ issues the list of varieties of fresh fruits obtaining access to the Chinese market and list of the exporting countries/regions.


Are there any fresh fruit and vegetable products for which there is unmet demand in China and therefore room for more imports?

There is huge domestic market demand for fresh fruit. Along with the increased health consciousness and higher living standards of the people, fresh fruit and vegetables have become an indispensable part of their daily meals.

Consumer demand for fresh fruit and vegetables is diverse, with variations across regions and levels. With 1.3 billion people, China has great market potential in terms of fresh fruits and vegetables.


Do you have any advice for those hoping to export their fruit or vegetables to China?

Close attention should be given to laws, regulations and related rules of procedures on market access promulgated by Chinese government departments.

In regard to the entry-exit inspection and quarantine of fruits and vegetables, AQSIQ develops and oversees the implementation of the relevant technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures on behalf of the Chinese government.

Both suppliers and buyers need to fully understand and comply with these rules so as to ensure smooth trade flow and avoid unnecessary obstacles to trade.


What steps has China taken recently to improve food safety and quality standards?

The Chinese government attaches great importance to food quality and safety and has developed a series of regulations and standards and keeps them updated along with developments in practice. For example, in 2009, China issued the “Food Safety Law”. Following the implementation practice in the past few years, an update was prepared. In December 2014, the draft revision was submitted to the National People’s Congress for examination and approval. Based on the original articles of the law, some new elements have been added to the draft version. These new elements include such points as to add some new specifications on food storage and transportation, market circulation of edible agricultural products, labelling of GMF (genetically modified food) and increased penalties for law breakers, and so on.


What role does CIQA play in improving fresh produce quality and safety and promotion of world trade? What specific activities have you carried out in this regard?

As a social organization approved by the State, the China Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Association (CIQA) plays an important role in improving product quality and promoting international trade. It acts as a bridge linking the government departments and the import and export enterprises. On the one hand, the association promotes understanding and awareness of state laws, regulations and related procedures by organising technical exchange activities, seminars and training courses, On the other hand, it passes on to the government the demands of importers and exporters – based on their market operation and international trade – to fill regulatory gaps or enhance the applicability of current regulations. The association is always ready to offer quality technical service to enterprises.


What kind of technical services does CIQA provide for enterprises?

For example, since 2009, the association has organised the annual world FVF (Fruit and Vegetable Fair). During the fair, technical exchange activities are held. Based on the exchange content, we invite government officials and relevant experts to attend. Any producer, exporter or buyer at the fair may participate in these technical exchange activities.

Furthermore, depending on the needs of a specific country or organisation, we also organise bilateral seminars. For example, in November 2014, when China FVF 2014 was held, CIQA and the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing jointly organized the “China-New Zealand Fresh Fruit Technical Exchange and Trade Match-making Meeting” in Beijing, which was highly regarded by New Zealand’s fresh fruit exporters.

NEWS china NTW DU MOIS Ge Zhirong 葛局长肖像 (1).JPG


What international exhibition and technical exchange activities does CIQA have planned this year?

In 2015, the following four international exhibitions will be sponsored by CIQA:

1. The Shanghai International Exhibition on Food, Meat and Aquatic products in June 2015,

2. The Guiyang Eco-Origin Product and Technology Exhibition in July 2015,

3. The Beijing World Fruit and Vegetable Fair (China FVF 2015) in September 2015, and the

4. Beijing International Inspection Technology and Equipment Expo in September 2015.

During each of these exhibitions there will be various forms of technical exchange activities, in which friends from all countries are warmly welcome to participate.




AQSIQ list of fresh fruit and exporting countries/regions with access to the Chinese market. Updated December 31, 2014.

(This English version is for reference only, the definitive version is in Chinese.)


AQSIQ list of fresh fruit and exporting countries/regions with access to the Chinese market. Updated December 31, 2014.

(This English version is for reference only, the definitive version is in Chinese.)





Orange, grapefruit, tangerine (& hybrids), apple, pear


Citrus (orange, lemon, grapefruit, lime), mango, apple (Tas.), grape, cherry






Kiwifruit, apple, grape, plum, cherry, blueberry, avocado



Costa Rica



Orange, lemon, grapefruit, tangor






Apple, kiwifruit




Mango, grape


Banana, longan, mangosteen, snakefruit


Orange, pomelo, tangerine/mandarin, lemon, grapefruit




Apple, pear


Longan, mangosteen, litchi, coconut, watermelon, papaya, rambutan


Avocado, grape, blackberry and raspberry


Citrus (orange, tangerine, clementine, grapefruit)

Myanmar (Burma)

Longan, mangosteen, rambutan, litchi, mango, watermelon, muskmelon, zizyphus mauritiana (last 4 must enter via Ruili or Daluo port)



New Zealand

Tangerine, orange, lemon, apple, cherry, grape, kiwifruit, plum, pear


Mango, orange




Grape, mango, citrus (grapefruit, orange & hybrids, tangerine, lime)


Pineapple, banana, mango, papaya

South Africa

Tangerine, orange, grapefruit, lemon, grape


Tangerine, orange, pomelo (grapefruit), lemon


Pineapple, banana, coconut, sweetsop (custard apple), papaya, starfruit, mango, guava, wax apple, areca (betel) nut, tangerine, pomelo, prune, loquat, persimmon, peach, date (Chinese), plum, lemon, orange, pitaya, Hami melon, pear




Tamarind, orange, cherimoya (custard apple), citrus, pomelo (grapefruit), papaya, carambola, guava, rambutan, wax apple, jackfruit, langsat, pineapple, ginseng fruit (sapodilla), banana, passion fruit, coconut, longan, durian, mango, litchi, mangosteen




Plum (Cal.), cherry (Wash., Oregon, Cal., Idaho), grape( Cal.), apple (Red Delicious & Golden Delicious: Wash., Oregon, Idaho), citrus (Cal., Florida, Arizona, Texas), pear (Cal., Wash., Oregon)


Mango, longan, banana, litchi, watermelon, rambutan, jackfruit, pitaya


NEWS china NTW DU MOIS Ge Zhirong 葛局长肖像 (2).JPG


Read the interview as it appeared on p25 of our latest edition, number 135.


aqsiq iv as it appeared.png

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Increased citrus imports and online sales in China

The majority of China’s imported citrus is sold through major retailers, convenience stores, fruit stalls, high-end hotels, restaurants and e-commerce.


Ongoing growth in China’s citrus imports is fuelled by strong thirst for fresh – and thus counter-seasonal – fruit, reports the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN). And the main suppliers – South Africa, Australia and the US – are also benefiting from the increasing cost of locally-grown fruit, GAIN said in its 2014 citrus annual for China.

Among its forecasts for the 2014/15 marketing year:

Orange imports: to rise 13% on previous year to 100,000 tons (South Africa then the US the main suppliers);

Mandarin imports: to rise more than 30% to 24,000 tons (South Africa & Australia the main suppliers);

Grapefruit imports: to rise 23% to 32,000 tons (imports from South Africa have grown to meet higher demand as more consumers become aware of grapefruit’s nutritional benefits).

Online fresh produce sales up 41% to more than $930 million

GAIN also said the majority of China’s imported citrus is sold through major retailers, convenience stores, fruit stalls, high-end hotels, restaurants and e-commerce.

It noted e-trade platforms developed fast in 2014 and though the market share is still small, using they are increasingly popular in China, where revenue from online fresh product sales rose nearly 41% in 2013 to more than $930 million.

“Selling fresh fruit online has continued to expand rapidly over the past 4 years. For example, Fruit Day was the first company to develop an online website to sell fresh fruit products in 2009 followed by Guo Ku Wang ( and Tou Tou Gong She ( also provides fresh-cut products online,” GAIN said.

Shanghai the preferred entry port

Guangzhou is China’s biggest fruit import distribution hub but importers increasingly prefer the next biggest, Shanghai, because of domestic transportation costs and other cost concerns.


Read the report

Image by NuclearVacuum via Wikimedia Commons




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Spanish hopeful of Chinese market entry deals soon on stone fruit, grapes


Spain is optimistic its fresh plum, peaches and nectarines will soon be imported by China.

And it is also happy with progress on a protocol which would see the Asian giant also open its doors to fresh Spanish table grapes. Spanish Secretary of State for Trade Jaime García-Legaz said recently he hoped to have positive news by the end of the year.

Final report due on Spanish plums, peaches, nectarines

A spokesman from the Spanish Ministry of Economy told EFD the Chinese phytosanitary requirements for plums, peaches and nectarines have now been “practically cemented” by AQSIQ (China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine).


In August, Chinese inspectors visited areas of plum, peach and nectarine production in Spain to verify the controls in place and their resulting assessment was regarded as “positive”, he said. After this visit, the Chinese phytosanitary requirements had been largely specified, “and it’s hoped that soon, perhaps before the end of this year, they will issue their final report and with that proceed to open the Chinese market for these products,” he said.

AQSIQ visits expected soon for Spanish table grapes

On grapes, he said Spain is waiting for China to complete its pest risk analysis, as part of which the phytosanitary requirements for this product will be determined. A visit by Chinese inspectors to Spanish production areas will follow.


No date has yet been set for these visits, but García-Legaz said he is optimistic about having “good news” in coming weeks about the scheduling of the visits and anticipates they will take place as early as possible in 2015.


In 2013, China imported table grapes worth US $514 million. Spain already has a citrus protocol with China – signed in 2005 after six years of negotiation – and believes its early stone fruit season will give it an edge there.


Learn more about the Chinese market in our recent report How fruit fared in China in 2013”


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Fruit imports a priority at Wal-Mart China


China’s leading retailer aims to raise imported fruit sales from 30% to 50%

“We recently started doing direct imports, but our volumes are developing fast,” said Vincent Yeh, chief of the perishables division at Wal-Mart China. “Imported fruit helps us strategically to distinguish us from our competitors; Wal-Mart is positioned as a foreign supermarket chain, so we build our image with imported items.”


Based in Shenzhen, Vincent’s team draws on the help of the US-based and global sourcing organization of Wal-Mart. “We aim to import top brands directly and supply our 390 stores.”


Established in 87 provinces, Wal-Mart China has become the largest retail chain in the country. The number of stores is growing by more than 10% annually on average, with 40 outlets to be opened by the end of 2014, and at least 40 more in 2015.


Since last August all the purchase activities have been centralised in Shenzhen, both for domestic and imported supplies. “Only a few specific local categories are being purchased locally,” Yeh said.


The logistics organisation is divided between 11 distribution centres in Eastern China (based in Shanghai), the North, North East, Western, South and South-East China.


Imported fruit now represents 30–40% of total sales, but the chain hopes to increase this ratio to more than 50% of its fruit sales within two years.


Read the full article online here on page 22 of issue 133 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine.

Author: PE

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How fruit fared in China in 2013


In 2013, China’s fruit exports still focused on apple, citrus and pear. With 35 nations/regions obtaining protocols from AQSIQ (China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine), it imported more varieties of fruit. Thanks to zero tariffs between China and ASEAN nations, fruit is imported from Pakistan, New Zealand, Chile, and Peru at very competitive prices. The top 10 imported fruits (in order of import value) were durian, grape, banana, cherry, mango, kiwi, citrus, plum, apple and watermelon. The total value of imported fruit increased 10.6% last year – more evidence that China is an increasingly attractive market.

Apples remain an export market
In 2013, apples were still an export market for China. The total export volume reached 994,664 tons, a 1.9% increase on 2012, with a 7.2% rise in total value to $1.03 billion. The peak months were January, March, April, November and December, with each seeing the export of more than 100,000 tons.
Asia and Europe are still the top two destinations. In terms of trade volume, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines are the top three buyers of Chinese apples, while in value, the Philippines topped the list, with more than $20 million, followed closely by Thailand with more than $19 million and Vietnam with more than $11 million. Two other buyers of Chinese apples also stood out: India (with about a 35% increase in volume and 25% increase in value) and Malaysia (30% increase both in volume and value). The Russian Commonwealth remains strong, but buyers have shifted to lower priced apples. Shandong province is the main apple growing region in China, and exported almost half of the total.

China’s apple imports
China imported 38,724 tons of apples value with a value of $67.6 million, down 37% and 26.8% respectively on 2012. In 2013, Chile, NZ and USA apple protocols were temporarily frozen, leaving little choices for importers. Only apples from Argentina, Australia (Tasmania), France, and Japan could be exported to China. At time of writing the bans on New Zealand and Chile had been lifted but the US had yet to regain access. As with apples, apple juice exports exceed imports. In 2012, China exported 750,000 tons of apple juice concentrate, however in 2013 the volume fell 1.7% to 601,000 tons. China imported 1,811 tons of apple juice last year, 75% more than 2012, though the value slipped 20.7% from $1.14 billion to under $0.91 billion. Apple juice from China mainly goes to the US – which bought half the total – and Germany, Japan, the Russian Commonwealth, Chile and Argentina. The average price for exported apple juice last year was $1507.29/ton. 
Citrus: China pays more for imported products
While in terms of volume China exported more citrus than it imported, the good news for suppliers is that exported citrus averaged $1,155/ton, but China paid $1,618.8/ton for imported citrus. At present, Argentina, Australia, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, and the US have protocols for export to China. (Though the US protocol was suspended last year, the ban may be lifted in 2014, according to AQSIQ sources.). Year-on-year, China’s citrus imports rose 53.6% last year, to 12,602 tons, while its citrus exports, mainly to other Asian nations, totalled 773,365 tons. The main exporting provinces are Fujian, Guangxi, Shandong, Xinjiang and Yunnan. China’s top citrus buyer, Malaysia, last year took more than 140,000 tons, up 46% on 2012. Malaysia paid $217 million, an increase of more than 72%. Next came Thailand, with more than 62,000 tons (+13%) and $106 million (+50%), followed by Vietnam. Price-wise, Malaysia paid a per ton average of $1588.20, and Thailand $1714.80, while, after a 39.5% increase, Vietnam averaged $685.3. Russia was the top buyer among European continent nations. 

Pears: import price twice that of exports
The top 10 Chinese pear destinations are (in order of value): Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, the US, the Russian Commonwealth, Canada, the Philippines and Singapore. Border trade accounts for about 18% of the total. Shandong and Hebei are the top growing regions.
In 2013, China exported 381,281 tons of pears, down 6.9%. The total value of exports was $361.75 million, up 11.3%. The average price was $948.80 per ton. Though China only imported 3,766 tons of pears (+51.9%), the average price for imported pears was $1,834.80/ton. The total value of pear imports in 2013 was $6.91 million, up 82.3%.Argentina, Belgium, Japan, New Zealand and the US obtained AQSIQ protocols to export pears to China.

Grapes: export price 9% of import price
Grape exporters to China had a great year. In 2013, they sold 205,301 tons (+21.9%) to China, at a value of $55.23 million (+29.8%). Though China exported 141,128 tons of grapes, the average price was only $249.6/ton while it paid $2,690/ton for imported grapes. The export price was thus only 9% of the import price.
Chile and Peru, with the opposite growing season to China, had a great year. At present, besides these two nations, Australia, New Zealand and US (California only) also have grape protocols.