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The TPP and fruit & vegetable trade

The TPP agreement grants new and enhanced market access in Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, New Zealand and Brunei, countries with which the US does not currently have a free trade agreement (FTA). It also expands market access into Canada, which already has an FTA with the US.

How the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will affect trade in various fruits and vegetables is covered in a recently updated report by the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service.

The agreement, concluded on October 5 this year, is between the United States and Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The TPP agreement grants new and enhanced market access in Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, New Zealand and Brunei, countries with which the US does not currently have a free trade agreement (FTA). It also expands market access into Canada, which already has an FTA with the US, the report says.

Tariff reductions are a core element of the TPP, under which countries have committed to “provide substantial market access for the US by either phasing out most tariffs (many immediately), enacting meaningful tariff reductions, or allowing a specific quantity of imports at a lower duty (generally zero) where tariff elimination is not possible.”

“The benefits of the TPP agreement will occur through a combination of tariff elimination, tariff reductions, and new tariff-rate quotas (TRQs),” the report says.

The following are details most relevant to trade in fresh fruit and vegetables:


In 2014, the US exported $915 million of fresh apples, cherries, and pears to the TPP region and $1.8 billion to the world.

Japan: the 8.5% tariff for fresh cherry imports will be cut in half upon entry into force of the agreement and eliminated in 6 years. The 17% tariff for fresh apples will fall 25% immediately upon implementation and be eliminated in 11 years and the 4.8% tariff on fresh pear imports will be eliminated immediately upon implementation.
Malaysia: the 5% tariffs on fresh apples, cherries, and pears will be eliminated immediately.
Vietnam: the 10% tariffs on apples, cherries and pears will be eliminated in 3 years.
US: tariffs on fresh apples, cherries, and pears, which are as high as 0.3 cents/kg (approximately 0.2% ad valorem equivalent), will be eliminated immediately.


In 2014, the US exported $881 million of citrus and citrus juices to the TPP region and $1.5 billion to the world.

Japan: tariffs on imported oranges will be eliminated in 6-8 years. It will expand the season when tariffs are lower from June-November to April-November. During the transition period, there will be a safeguard during the December-March high-tariff season. Japan’s current orange juice tariffs will be eliminated in six-11 years. It will also eliminate its 10% duty on grapefruit over 6 years. Japan’s tariff on lemons is already fixed at zero.
Malaysia: will keep its tariffs on oranges at 0% and immediately eliminate its current 5% tariffs on grapefruit and lemons.
Vietnam: will eliminate in 3 years the current 40% tariff on grapefruit and 20% tariff on lemons. It will also eliminate tariffs on citrus juices, currently as high as 25%, in 5-8 years and eliminate the 20% tariff on oranges in 4 years.
US: will phase out tariffs on oranges, grapefruit, lemons and citrus juices in ten years or less. These tariffs are less than 3 cents/kg for citrus fruits and range up to 7.85 cents/litre for citrus juices.


In 2014, the US exported $1.6 billion of fruit other than citrus fruits, apples, cherries, and pears to the TPP region and $2.2 billion to the world.

Japan: tariffs, as high as 17%, will be immediately eliminated for many products, including grapes, avocados, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, kiwi, watermelon, and papaya. Tariffs for the vast majority of other products in this category, currently as high as 17%, will be eliminated in 11 years or less.
Malaysia: will immediately eliminate tariffs on the majority of these fruits, which currently face tariffs as high as 30%. Tariffs on tropical fruits, such as bananas and longans, will be eliminated over a 10-year period.
Vietnam: All of Vietnam’s tariffs on these fruits, currently as high as 30%, will be eliminated in 4 years or less. Vietnam’s tariff of 10% on fresh grapes will be eliminated in 3 years.
US: will eliminate tariffs as high as 29.8% in 10 years or less.


In 2014, the US exported $1.0 billion of potatoes and potato products to the TPP region and $1.7 billion to the world.

Japan: tariffs on fresh potatoes, which are currently as high as 4.3%, will be immediately eliminated. Japan’s 8.5% tariff on frozen whole potatoes will be eliminated in six years. Additionally, Japan’s 20% tariff on dehydrated flakes, granules, pellets, flour, meal and powder will be eliminated in six-11 years. In 2014, Japan imported more than $200 million of frozen French fries. Japan will eliminate its current 8.5% duty on frozen French fries in four years and its nine% tariff on “other prepared/preserved frozen potatoes” in six years.
Malaysia: will immediately eliminate tariffs on all potatoes and potato products, currently ranging up to eight%.
Vietnam: will eliminate tariffs on all potatoes and potato products, currently as high as 34%, within six years. It will eliminate the tariff on frozen French fries in four years.
US: will eliminate tariffs on all potatoes and potato products, currently as high as 14%, in zero-10 years.


In 2014, the US exported $3.9 billion of fresh and processed vegetables (including potato and dried pulses) to the TPP region and more than $5.9 billion to the world.

Japan: will eliminate tariffs for virtually all fresh and processed vegetables. Many of Japan’s vegetable tariffs, currently as high as 17%, will be eliminated immediately as will tariffs on vegetable juices and canned and other vegetable products. These products include fresh/chilled broccoli, fresh tomatoes, fresh celery, fresh asparagus, cabbage, lettuce, chickpeas, garlic and shallots. Tariffs on other fresh and processed vegetables, including fresh sweet corn and onions, will be eliminated in 4-11 years.
Vietnam: will eliminate tariffs, currently as high as 40%, on fresh and processed vegetables in 11 years or less. It will immediately eliminate tariffs on several vegetables including asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, ginseng, peppers, and spinach.
Malaysia: will immediately eliminate tariffs, some of which are 90% or higher, on all fresh and processed vegetables.
US: will eliminate tariffs, currently as high as 29.8%, on all fresh and processed vegetables in 10 years.

Image: “Leaders of TPP member states” by Gobierno de Chile – 14.11.2010 Gira a Asia. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons

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Japan plans fully robotic lettuce farm by 2017

Capable of supplying 30,000 heads of lettuce a day, Japanes company Spread says its 4,800m2 ‘large-scale vegetable factory’ will be “fully automated from seeding to harvest.”

Kyoto-based firm Spread plans to open what has been dubbed the world’s first fully robotic farm.

Capable of supplying 30,000 heads of lettuce a day, the company says its 4,800m2 ‘large-scale vegetable factory’ will be “fully automated from seeding to harvest.” This complete automation of the cultivation process will slash labour costs in half, it said in a press release.

Focused on global expansion, Spread hopes to extend its production to 500,000 heads of lettuce per day in five years “and will continue to expand our vegetable factory business domestically and internationally.”

Founded in 2006, in Kameoka in Kyoto, Spread already operates what it calls the world’s largest vegetable factory using artificial lighting, which grows four types of lettuce for a total 21,000 heads per day. It provides year-round supply to about 2,000 stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area and the Kansai region via the brand “Vegetus”.

Spread produces several types of lettuce under the brand name “Vegetus” (its brand for vegetables cultivated in its vegetable factories) and says it sells them to department stores, major grocery stores, hotels, restaurant, and amusement parks around Japan.

Construction of the vertical farm – at a full investment of up to about 2 million yen (€14.6m) – is due to start in Kizugawa, Kyoto, next spring with the first shipments in summer 2017. From the estimated production capacity of 10 million heads of lettuce a year, Spread estimates annual sales of about 1 million yen.

Environmentally friendly features of the ‘next-generation’ factory are to include recycling of 98% of the water used for cultivation and a system of environmental control making the factory extremely energy efficient.

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Japan’s mandarin consumption drops while lemon rises



The Japanese are eating less mandarins and more lemons, a USDA report on citrus in Japan reveals.

Since 2003, Japan’s annual household consumption of all fresh fruit has dropped 15% – from 97–82kg – but the rate of decline for mandarins has been greater – 30%, to  12.3kg, the report “Japan: Citrus Annual” says.

Prepared by the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN), it says the drop in mandarin consumption may be the result of increased availability of other fruit varieties.

Other possible reasons cited are that Japanese consumer preferences have been shifting towards fruit that is not tart or tangy, and younger Japanese tend to eat less fruit which requires peeling.

However, mandarins remain one of the most popular fresh fruits in Japan, accounting for about 15% of fresh fruit consumption there in 2013.

“The Japanese industry has been trying to encourage consumers, particularly younger consumers, to purchase more mandarins by introducing ready-to-eat mandarin products such as cut fruit and jelly-fruit cups.”

“Japanese production, consumption and imports of mandarins are forecast to decline further in MY 2014/15, as farmers continue to exit and consumers substitute other fruits and sweets for mandarins,” it says.

Japanese imports of fresh mandarins source USDA.png

Increased lemon demand, production

Meanwhile, total numbers remain small but increased Japanese lemon production reveals underlying consumer preferences and shifts within Japanese citrus production, the USDA says.

“Growers seeking a higher return on their investment are substituting mandarin trees with different citrus tree varieties such as lemon.”

Unlike other fruit harvesting farms in Japan, the area harvested for Japanese lemons has been growing steadily over the last decade as Japanese growers respond to this increased consumer preference for local lemons.

It’s anticipated the 2014/15 campaign will see Japan’s lemon harvest area expand to 500 hectares with production volume slightly increasing to 10,000 MT – up 5% on current production estimates of 9,500 MT.

in Japan, fresh lemons are mainly used by the food service sector, as a garnish or food and beverage ingredient.

“Domestic lemon producers have aggressively promoted the freshness of their produce, as well as introducing some recipes online, and these efforts have slowly increased consumer demand.

Additionally, domestic lemon producers have been targeting safety-cautious consumers by advertising their produce as free of postharvest agrochemicals.”

“In MY2013/14, imports from New Zealand increased to 819 MT. New Zealand lemons fill into the market when Chilean and U.S. lemons are out of season. They are marketed as free of postharvest agrochemicals and sold at a premium price.”

Overall, the impact of citrus greening disease in Florida, tight global fresh orange supplies, a weaker yen and increased competition from substitutable products for Japanese consumer dollars should drive grapefruit, orange, and orange juice imports lower in the 2014/15 marketing year, the USDA predicts.

Japan lemon imports.png


Read the report.

Image: “Citrus unshiu-unshu mikan” by Tomomarusan. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


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The TPP and Fresh Produce Imports in Japan


What the Trans-Pacific Partnership could mean for fruit and vegetable exporters

Oranges are one of the possible opportunities for imports in Japan, a country where the population is steadily shrinking and consumption of agricultural products likely to decline, says the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

That’s because oranges are sensitive to price drops – lower prices bring higher consumption – and thus among the opportunities for growth that could be filled by imports, the USDA’s Economic Research Service said in its new report “Japan’s Agri-Food Sector and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)“.

It’s hoped a TPP agreement will see the reduction or even elimination of Japanese import tariffs, which could significantly lower the prices of imported products including oranges.

Demand strong in Japan for organic and local food

Organic food is another area where demand for agricultural products is increasing in Japan – against a backdrop of otherwise “sluggish growth in the volume of consumption” – because consumers worry about “food safety, quality, healthfulness, and production methods.”

There is significant concern about metabolic syndrome (including about excessive weight), another reason “foods and beverages perceived as heart-healthy – including fruits, vegetables, seafood, wine, and tea – are likely to be more popular as a result.”

Meanwhile, the “recent popularity of local food does not appear to be waning.” the USDA said, which is a growing opportunity for Japanese farmers.

Japanese farmers focus on ‘taste and appearance’

Among other insights into the Japanese market:

– vegetable production has been one of the strongest segments of Japan’s agriculture,

– Japanese farmers focus on taste and appearance and one of their strengths is the ability to differentiate from imports based on quality and providing very fresh products,

– Japan’s web of protection for agriculture includes tariff quotas and protection against price declines for Japanese vegetable and fruit growers,

– as well as open-field production, Japan grows vegetables in plastic-covered hoop houses and glass houses,

– Japan is self-sufficient in most temperate fruits,

– China poses a challenge to Japan in products including fresh and processed vegetables, and fruit, which generally arrive at a lower price than Japanese farmers can match.


Access the USDA report here.

To learn more about the Japanese fruit and vegetable market read our report here.


Photo by Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons

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BORRAR 512px-Japan_flag_-_variant

Bananas, citrus and pineapples lead Japan’s fruit imports

Japan has always been very dependent on imports, especially for food and even more so for fresh produce. The total value of its fresh produce imports in 2012 was $2.5 billion, which included about 1.86 million tons of fruit and 862,082 tons of vegetables.


The leading imported fruits in Japan are bananas (59%), citrus (20%) and pineapples (9%). Most of the bananas are from the Philippines. Among citrus varieties, the leading import is the grapefruit, though Japanese people are increasingly preferring oranges. In 2013, 67% of imported citrus in Japan came from the US, 30% from Australia and 2.4% from South Africa, for a total volume of 30,745 tons.


The fastest growth in fresh produce imports in Japan is in avocados, which rose by 25% in 2012. Because it favours domestic produce, Japan imports only small amounts of products that it grows itself – such as stone fruit, apples and cherries.


Fruit imports in Japan, 2012 (tons)

Bananas 1,096,538, Pineapples 174,041, Grapefruit 151,413, Oranges 130,422, Kiwifruit 63,970, Avocados 58,555, Lemons & limes 55,895



Vegetables imports in Japan, 2012 (tons)

Onions 342,710, Pumpkin & squash  125,024, Cabbage 84,110, Carrots 82,051, Leeks 56,400



Due to its small land mass and high population density, Japan lacks an agricultural sector strong enough to export significant volumes. But of the fresh produce it does export, fruit is the leading type, especially apples, mandarins and pears. In 2012, it exported about 14,015 tons of fruit and just 956 tons of vegetables.

Japanese retailers undergoing concentration

Japan’s retail sector has been quite stable in the past few years, even if regional retailers, such as Universe and Hokkaido’s ARCS, have tended to merge to compete with national players such as AEON and Ito-Yokado, which both represent 40% of total Japanese retail. The top 5 national companies – AEON, Ito-Yokado, Uny, Daiei and Life Corp. – together woo 62% of food sales.

Nationwide retailers, including AEON and Ito-Yokado, generally source their foods through importers and wholesalers.


Consumption in Japan – elders are big spenders


Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs figures show nearly a quarter of household spending in Japan is on food. Japanese people value local products and in particular high quality and premium produce. The recent ecological disasters there have also increased awareness of environmental issues and safe production standards.

Japanese consumers can be split into two main groups: young active people and elders. In the last few years, a big range of healthy and ready-to-eat fresh produce has been developed to cater for each of these segments.

AEON is particularly targeting elders by opening its stores two hours earlier and with special deals attracting more of them onsite.

This is an abbreviated version of an article that appeared on page 26 of our latest issue, available online here. Each edition of Eurofresh Distribution magazine features a country profile providing insights into the opportunities and trends in different world markets.