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Chilean fruit exports to China decimated

Even though fruit is a significant snack globally, and even vegetables are popular in the Asia-Pacific region (57%), cheese is the most eaten snack in Europe (58%), bread/sandwiches in the Middle East (47%), ice cream in Latin America (63%) and potato/tortilla crisps in the US (63%).


Chile’s fruit exporters association (ASOEX) has estimated the losses to the country’s exports to China at close to US$100 million. This news was announced at the second meeting of the public-private table where the effects of the coronavirus on Chilean exports to China were analysed. The meeting included chaired the Minister of Foreign Relations, Rodrigo Yañez and the President of the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile AG (ASOEX), Ronald Bown Fernández.

“After the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations, there were expectations of a revival in trade. However, on Monday, February 10, only 68 containers of cherries were sold. While in total, during the first 48 hours of operations in the wholesale markets in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing and others, only 249 containers of the existing fruit stock in the chain were sold, estimated at 1,500 containers of cherries,” said the President of ASOEX. He added: “The first sales prices have been lower than expected, also in relation to the values ​​reached before the Chinese New Year. We believe that if the current trend were maintained, lower revenues could be projected for the cherry export sector of between US$70 and 80 million. But if we add other fruit species to this, we could reach losses of about US$100 million. However, this could vary depending on how the situation develops. So, we are constantly evaluating the market and conversing with our representatives in China.”

There is also concern about the fruit in transit to China, estimated at 1,600 containers, whose expected arrival dates are between now and March 15. These shipments contain about 59 containers of blueberries, 173 containers of cherries, 872 containers of plums, 387 containers of nectarines, 30 containers of avocados and 134 containers of table grapes. 

The Chilean fruit export industry has adapted its export promotion strategy in China, which includes facilitating the consumption of the basket of fruits exported by Chile, including cherries, blueberries, peas and table grapes, to highlight their nutritional benefits. The consumption of fruits will be promoted via online media and in retail chains and the sector will continue to donate fresh fruit to clinics and health centres. The first delivery will consist of 1,000 1.5 kg boxes of blueberries, donated to the lung hospital of Shanghai.

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New start for Harvest Season and garciaBallester in Asian citrus market

New start for Harvest Season and garciaBallester in Asian citrus market
Credit: Press release

An event held on 12th February in Palma del Río, Córdoba, makes official and consolidates the alliance between Harvest Season and garciaBallester. The two large companies, leaders in the business, are now united in achieving the same goal: to become leaders in the Asian citrus import market. garciaBallester’s own facilities were chosen as the ideal setting to seal the union between the two companies. 

Representatives and senior executives from both companies were present from the beginning, with garciaBallester represented by Jorge García (CEO), Jorge C. García, (management coordinator), Lucas (Asian export manager), Miguel Meliá, (GB Palma del Rio’s packhouse manager) and Stephane (sales director), and Harvest Season represented by Tony Zhang (general manager).

The event started with the reception of both parties in garciaBallester’s facilities, and later on they went out to the fields.  Once in the field, which was also in the middle of the orange season, the union between both companies was formalised. To do this, a customised pickaxe was used as a symbolic element to announce their commitment to a new era in the citrus market in Asia. Later, attendees were treated to a guided tour around garciaBallester’s facilities. 

The highlight of the event was the cutting of the opening ribbon, where Harvest Season and garciaBallester celebrated their new chapter together. They were able to share new ideas and also to answer questions from the invited press. The event demonstrated successfully how to start this new stage for Harvest Season and garciaBallester.

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Sofruce, ever ambitious

Sofruce, a family business headed by Grégory Cebrian, the grandson of its founder, continues to grow with a turnover of 87 million Euros in 2018.

Specialising in the import and export of fresh fruit and vegetables for more than 50 years, Sofruce has a long played a major part in the berry industry, but the scope of Sofruce’s activities has broadened in recent years and now rests on 3 major pillars, berries, citrus and tomatoes.  In this context of strategic development Fabien Lefebvre has now joined Sofruce in the capacity of Managing Director, “We have big ambitions for Citrus, in particular with regard to the Moroccan clementine, where we see a market potential of 35 000 tons.   Similarly we are seeing double-digit growth in tomatoes, notably in the small segmentation tomato where we have become indispensable.” Of the berries the strawberry is still the leader with 18 000 tons sold in 2018, the main focusses for development are now raspberry and blueberry.   Sofruce is also a major player on the melon market starting from the month of March.

“Maria” the platform for producers

While Sofruce offers its clients “tailor-made” solutions out of Perpignan and Rotterdam, Grégory Cebrian created a new company in 2018, Maria, the purpose of which is to organise the “complete direct shipment of productions”.  Strengthened by this unique offer Sofruce has concluded some exclusivity agreements with two of its long-term partners, COPAG (120 000 tons of citrus and 40 000 tons of early vegetables to Morocco) and Rosaflor (300 hectares to tomato greenhouses and melons in Agadir and Dakhla).  “Our added value lies in our in-depth knowledge of international markets.  With customer satisfaction at the heart of all we do, we also lend support to our producers.   Selection of variety, crop rotation, we get involved far up the chain with the aim of guaranteeing optimal remuneration for our producers, positive social impact and a continuous improvement process”.  Other partnerships are currently in development, in particular in Spain and Morocco, but also from complementary origins, “in order to select the best match of soil and variety and to give us a longer marketing schedule”.

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Opportunities for fresh produce exports to France

Fresh fruits and vegetables – particularly tropical and exotic – are among the best high value prospects for American companies looking to export to France, according to a report by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

Fresh fruits and vegetables – particularly tropical and exotic – are among the best high value prospects for American companies looking to export to France, according to a report by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

Titled the France Exporter Guide, the report says prime opportunities for U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable suppliers are in off-season and extended season sales, as well as during years of short French fruit crops.

“France is the leading European market for U.S. grapefruit and number three in the world after Japan and Canada with 17.5 tons imported in calendar year 2013, valued at $20 million. The U.S. market share for citrus fruits represents 21 percent of total French imports in volume and 25 percent in value. The US was France’s first supplier in volume and value for grapefruit for the first time in 2014, followed by South Africa, Israel and Spain,” it says.

During short-crop years, France imports apples and pears from the US. There is also a niche market for berries, medjool dates, dried prunes, frozen fruits and nuts, fresh cherries, cashew nuts, apples, and other fresh citrus.

“Imports of fresh and dried cranberries from the US have been very successful during the last fifteen years and were valued at more than $1 million in 2014. Transshipments from other EU member states (who do not produce cranberries) were valued at more than $2.2 million the same year.”

Root vegetables among few opportunities for US fresh vegetables

Very few opportunities exist for US fresh vegetables, the report says. “Trends and increased consumption indicate a growing demand for dried and prepared vegetables (washed and cut) and many supermarkets have a special section for these types of products.”

However it advises there may also be demand for organic vegetables, “as the new US/EU organic agreement should open doors for U.S. suppliers.”

And import statistics show US exports of fresh and chilled edible root vegetables to France have increased since 2011. “These exports were valued at $2.4 million versus $626,000 in 2010. FAS Paris initiated contact with French buyers and the American Sweet Potatoes Commission actively promotes this product among the food service industry.”

Move from frozen to fresh prepared foods in food service

The report provides a guide to France’s economic situation and market structure, as well as exporter tips. On the subject of food trends in France it says French consumers desire innovative and more convenient foods offering a quality image, better taste, and increased health benefits

It also mentions that the French food service industry is moving towards fresh consumer-ready products at the expense of frozen foods.

Under this category, dried nuts are the majority of U.S. exports, the report says.


source: France Exporter Guide, GAIN report FR9175
image of the Eiffel tower as seen from the Champ de Mars: by Edisonblus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons