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South Africa’s deciduous fruit supply

South Africa is the Southern Hemisphere’s fourth biggest apple producer and ranks second for pears.

With about 79,803 ha last year, deciduous fruit is the largest sub-sector for all land dedicated to fruit plantations in South Africa.

And of the country’s total area planted with deciduous fruit, grapes (fresh and dried), apples and pears together accounted for about 78%, reports the USDA’s Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN).

In an update on South African deciduous fruit supply and demand, it says South Africa is the Southern Hemisphere’s fourth biggest apple producer and ranks second for pears.

The Western Cape is the country’s largest and traditional producer of deciduous fruits, but in the past two decades the Northern and Eastern Cape, and Limpopo provinces have become increasingly large producers of deciduous fruit, GAIN says.

Forecasts from the South African post in the report include:

South African apple production is expected to increase by 2% to 865,000 tons in the 2016 marketing year (January to December), and exports to inch up 1% to 455,000 tons, based on the available production and the weak rand exchange rate.
Africa is now the leading export market for South Africa apples, taking nearly half of total exports, followed by the EU (26%), Asia (20%) and the Middle East (7%).
The top 5 export countries in 2014 were the UK (17%), Malaysia (11%), Nigeria (11%), Angola (4%) and the UAE (4%).

South African pear production is forecast to rise 3% to 410,000 tons in 2016 based on normal growing conditions and the minimal impact of the dry weather conditions on irrigation water availability.
Exports are set to fall 7% to 190,000 tons based on the difficult global pear market, and growth in the local processing market demand and prices.
The EU takes about 57% of the total exports followed by Asia (22%), the Middle East (14%), and Africa (7%).
The Netherlands is the biggest individual market, accounting for 27% of the export market followed by the UAE at 10%.

Table grapes
Another exceptional season is expected for table grape production, with a marginal rise on last season to 294,000 tons.
Exports are also expected to rise marginally, by 1% to 266,000 tons, based on the available production and continued strong demand due to the weak exchange rate.
The EU takes at least 75% of the table grapes exports.
“South Africa benefits from a shorter shipping distance than other Southern Hemisphere competitors, strong demand for seedless varieties, and a free trade agreement with the EU,” the report says, also noting that “exports to Asia (14%), the Middle East (6%) and Africa (4%) have strong growth potential.”

Domestic consumption
Domestic consumption of apples, pears and table grapes is forecast to remain flat in 2016 based on the available production and South Africa’s slow economic growth prospects.
South Africa is a net exporter of deciduous fruits, and only imports small quantities of apples, pears and grapes to fulfill a niche market or to satisfy domestic demand when supply is limited

South Africa flag image: Flag design by Frederick Brownell, image by Wikimedia Commons users [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Production up for China, the world’s top apple, pear & table grape grower

China is the world’s leading producer of apples, pears, and table grapes, and in MY 2015/16 expects apple production at 43 million tons, up 5% on the previous year, pear production up 6% to 19 million tons, and grape production up 9% to to 9.6 million tons.

China is the world’s leading producer of apples, pears, and table grapes, comprising roughly 55%, 77%, and 44% of total output respectively, and is expecting increased crops for each of these fruits in MY 2015/16, according to a recent USDA Gain report on fresh deciduous fruit in the country.

Chinese Fruit Production 2004-2014

source: Ministry of Agriculture


China’s apple production: The USDA post forecasts China’s apple production at 43 million tons in marketing year (MY) 2015/16 (July-June), up 5% from the revised production in MY 2014/15 underpinned by generally favourable weather. In the last decade, apple production has steadily increased but this growth is likely to moderate as less new acreage becomes available for apple production.

China’s apple imports: In May this year, the US and Chinese governments granted market access for each other’s apples, a move expected to boost apple imports from the United States. China’s apple imports are forecast to continue surging by nearly 50% to 100,000 tons in MY 2015/16 (July-June) after China granted market access for all varieties of the U.S.-origin apples.
In October 2014, China lifted an import suspension on Washington apples due to quarantine pest issues, as a result, the country’s apple imports nearly doubled in MY 2014/15. The US is China’s second largest apple supplier after Chile.

China’s apple exports: Increasing prices had been limiting China’s apple exports but in MY 2015/16, China’s apple exports are expected to rebound by 20% to 900,000 tons thanks to apples that are lower-priced and in greater supply. In MY 2014/15, exports had dropped by nearly 20% to 750,000 tons as domestic apple prices reached a record high and the buying power of what had been two main customers for Chinese apples, Russia and Indonesia, was limited by economic difficulties and local currency devaluations

Apple prices in China: Farm gate prices for Fuji apples have dropped by 25% to RMB 6.4 ($1.00) per kilo in Qixia of Shandong, a major apple producing area in China, compared with MY 2014/15. The high purchase prices during the MY 2014/15 harvest time effectively limited consumption and, as a result, fruit sales were reduced and prices began to decline in March 2015. In general, fruit prices were much lower in 2015 than the previous year due to the economic slowdown.


China’s pear production: Pear production is expected to increase by 6% to 19 million tons in MY 2015/16, up nearly 6% from the previous year because of favourable growing conditions in major production areas.

China’s pear imports:  China’s pear imports are forecast to increase by more than 20% to 12,000 tons in MY 2015/16. Pear imports are steadily increasing as consumers become more aware and acceptant of Western pears that are different from their Asian counterparts. Since gaining market access in 2013, the US has become China’s top pear supplier.

China’s pear exports: Thanks to increased supplies, China’s pear exports are tipped to rise 9% to 360,000 tons in MY 2015/16. The report said that while China’s export share to Indonesia, the leading buyer of Chinese pears, is declining, its other major markets in Asia remain quite stable and China is exploring new foreign markets.

Table grapes

Chinese table grape production: The forecast from the USDA’s post in China is for Chinese table grape production of 9.6 million tons in MY 2015/16 (June-May), up 9% on the year before thanks mainly to increased acreage. Grape acreage is expected to expand 5% to 800,000 ha in MY 2015/16.

China’s table grape imports: The post estimates 10% growth in China’s grape imports to 250,000 tons for MY 2015/16, due largely to increased imports during the local off-season. Chile is China’s top grape supplier and Peru has overtaken the US in the number two spot. China’s grape imports from Peru are likely to increase further as, under a Free Trade Agreement, the import tariff for Peruvian grapes will fall to zero this year.

China’s table grape exports: A 27% increase to 165,000 tons is the forecast China’s table grape exports in MY 2015/16. Grape exports to China’s neighbours in Asia are likely to enjoy a boost thanks to the drop in prices in China. In the wake of rapid production expansion, prices for most grape varieties have fallen considerably since MY 2014/15. For example, farm gate prices for Red Globe varieties in Shaanxi province were quoted at RMB 4.8 ($0.76) per kilo during the harvest, down 20% on the same period the previous year.

Chinese fruit consumption

Per capita daily fruit consumption in China is said to be 198 grams, compared to 303 grams in the US and 426 grams in Italy, suggesting there is room for much growth. However, such growth has been slowed in China by the current economic restructuring and much slower GDP growth there.
On the positive side, however, fruit prices have fallen since last year and consumption of imported fruit continues to rise at a fairly fast rate in large cities, “aided by the development of E-commerce which targets mainly the consumers with higher disposable income and young professionals. Shanghai, for example, imports between RMB 15 to 18 billion ($23.6 to 28.3 million) of fresh fruit each year, an annual increase of nearly 40%, according to customs data.”
Overall, the report says, China’s fruit consumption will continue to increase, aided by dietary changes.

Focus now on boosting quality, not production

Instead of focusing on the expansion of production, quality improvement is increasingly the aim of support for the fruit sector provided by the government, normally at provincial or county levels, the report says.
Demonstration farms are seen by the local agriculture departments as an effective way to showcase new production models and farming technology. In Shaanxi, for example, the provincial government is providing an annual subsidy of RMB 10 million ($1.6 million) to build high-density apple demonstration farms which will serve as the model for upgrading the existing apple orchards in the province.

source: GAIN Report Number CH15059, 2015 Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual for China (People’s Republic of)

main image: “The People’s Republic of China (green) and its claimed territory (lighter green)” by Ssolbergj licensed under GFDL via Commons


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Success in China for Aussie grape growers

Growers in the Australian Table Grape Association have nearly tripled their exports to China since 2014, with the volume rising from 7,000 tons to 20,000 tons.

Growers in the Australian Table Grape Association have nearly tripled their exports to China since 2014, with the volume rising from 7,000 tons to 20,000 tons.

The association, which represents grape producers across Australia, reports that of total production of 160,000 tons, 90,000 are exported. The main markets are Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and other Asian countries.

“We also export our fruit to Japan and Korea; these markets have been expanding,” said Jeff Scott, the association’s CEO.

Talking about the growers’ success in selling grapes to China, Scott said the association has been participating in China FVF since its launch six years ago. “And three years ago our countries signed a relevant protocol, and we started to ship grapes to China. Now that country is the most rewarding market in terms of volume, because Chinese consumers like the taste and appearance of our grapes, and sales keeps growing, although the price is higher than for their domestic grapes.”

Australian Table Grape Association

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Argentina also sees recovery in apple, pear crops

Argentina’s fresh apple production is likely to rebound to 720,000 tons and pears to 650,000 tons next year, thanks to favourable weather conditions.

Argentina’s fresh apple production is likely to rebound to 720,000 tons and pears to 650,000 tons next year, thanks to favourable weather conditions.

But even so, that’s down on the ‘normal’ levels of about 900,000 and 850,000 tons respectively due to decreased planted area as a result of the economic crisis Argentine producers have faced in the past 7-8 years, says a USDA Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report.

The country’s apple and pear exports are forecast to increase to 130,000 tons and 310,000 tons, respectively, due to production increases and less fruit supplies in the Northern Hemisphere, and domestic consumption is expected to rise, also as a result of production increase, the report says.

Meanwhile, due to decreased planted area, table grape production is set to fall 10% to 100,000 tons, exports to drop slightly to 20,000 tons and domestic consumption to fall as a result of the lower production.

Distribution channels

GAIN says that the Argentine domestic fruit market is highly concentrated in Buenos Aires City and its suburbs, where over one third of the country’s total population lives, though the country’s government has been trying to decentralise it through the creation of a few fruit distribution markets in the interior of the country.

There are three channels for the distribution of fresh fruit:

  • large exporters from Alto Valle, who use the domestic market as a secondary outlet for their products and have hyper and supermarkets as their main customers
  • medium-sized firms handling smaller volumes and focused on quality
  • small companies handling small volumes that are distributed to pre-established points of sale in larger cities.

Challenges for Argentina’s fruit sector

GAIN said Argentina needs to improve the quality of its fruit, in order to meet the requirements of demanding export markets, and develop new apple and pear varieties. “Among the bicolor apples, only some Gala and Braeburn clones have succeeded in Argentina. Others, like Fuji, Jonagold and Elstar, did not adapt well to local conditions. Among yellow apples, Golden Delicious is the classic variety. Although it adapted well to Argentina’s production conditions, this variety has lost popularity due to marketing problems. Among the red varieties, Red Delicious is the most widespread variety. Since it is sterile, it must be crossed with other varieties such as Gala, Fuji, Elstar, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonathan and Ozarkgold.

“In Argentina, many Red Delicious clones, such as Starkrimson, Red Chief, Hi Early, Top Red Delicious, Oregon Spur, or Red King Oregon and Cooper 8, have been adopted. The second most important apple variety is Granny Smith. During the past few years, a shift towards the Royal Gala variety (bicolor) has occurred as international markets are demanding fewer red varieties.

“Among the most popular pear varieties, William’s accounts for about 45% of the Argentine total pear production, followed by Packham’s Triumph with a 30% share. Other varieties are Beurre D’Anjou, Red Bartlett, Abate Fetel, Beurre Bosc, Beurre Giffard, Clapps Favourite, and Red Beurre D’Anjou,” GAIN said.

Image: “Argentina orthographic” by Addicted04 – Own work with Natural Earth DataThis vector image was created with Inkscape.. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons

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California set new record for table grape crop value in 2014


California’s table grape growers also harvested second highest volume ever

  • New crop value record of $1.76 billion (€1.62b)
  • Second largest crop ever
  • 110 million 19 lb boxes marketed
  • Export volume & value second highest in history
  • 44.5 million 19lb boxes shipped
  • Exports value $857 million (€789m).
  • 40% of total crop volume exported
  • Top volume export markets included Canada, Mexico & China/Hong Kong

As it gears up for the start of its new season next month, California’s table grape sector has released figures showing the last one was a bumper in both value and volume.

California Table Grape Commission president Kathleen Nave said that overall, last year was a good one for most growers. “The industry was able to successfully harvest and ship a large crop at good prices over a very long season.”

Nave expects this season to mirror that of 2014 in timing, beginning late April and running through January. With the start thus only a month away, the commission is gearing up its global campaign. “The commission campaign focuses on motivating the trade to promote, and consumers to buy, more grapes from California more often,” she said.

According to a commission press release, 2014 saw the state’s table grape growers net their second biggest crop ever – 110 million 19 lb boxes marketed – as well as their second biggest export volume and value – 44.5 million 19 lb boxes shipped at a value of $857 million.

The top volume export markets included (with amount of 19 pound boxes shipped):

  • Canada 11.4 million
  • Mexico 5.7 million
  • China/Hong Kong 5.5 million

Just over 40 percent of the total crop volume was exported.




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Global grape harvest to reach 20.5 million tons

GRAPES white table

Worldwide consumption of fresh table grapes has grown nearly 30% in last 5 years

Despite Chinese imports jumping up 20% and US imports rising a more sedate 9%, world table grape imports should remain at just over 2.4 million tons in 2014/15. The small increase on last year’s global imports – less than 1% – will come as table grape production creeps up 2% to 20.6 million tons, according to USDA forecasting. Smaller crops in Turkey and the EU will be more than offset by an 11% gain to 9 million tons in China, where the grape area continues to expand, the USDA said.

Slip expected in US grape exports

Greater availability from top supplier Chile is linked to the projected rise in imports to 565,000 tons in the US, where table grape production is likely to drop 6% to 950,000 tons due to drought in California and hail. Due to flat demand in its top markets Canada and Mexico, exports from the US are headed down 4% to 400,000 tons, the USDA calculates. The EU’s imports are tipped to slide 5% to 540,000 tons and its exports, due in part to the Russian ban, to erode 15% to 130,000 tons. Production in the EU is expected to drop 16% to 1.6 million tons “as area continues to decline due to reduced profitability,” the USDA said. Imports by Russia are expected to ebb only slightly – 1.5% – to 385,000 tons as grapes from other suppliers largely offset those from banned countries. Russia’s grape crop should increase a tenth, to 81,000 tons.

Ongoing growth in Chinese grape imports, world consumption

Enduring strong demand for counter seasonal grapes lies behind China’s likely increase from 231,000 tons of table grape imports in 2013/14 to 280,000 this marketing year. That would mean the country’s grape imports have swollen nearly 260% since 2009/10, when it bought 78,000 tons of foreign grapes. The import tariff for Peru, currently China’s second biggest supplier, dropped to zero on January 1, the USDA noted. While the vast majority of Chinese-grown grapes will be consumed domestically, China’s exports are nevertheless also in line to increase, by 15% to 120,000 tons. After 2013/14’s frost, production in Chile is poised to rebound 14% to 1.2 million tons. The consequent rise of nearly 15% in Chilean exports, to 825,000 tons, is the main factor in an expected 3% increase in global exports this year. Peru’s production is forecast to increase again, by 8% to 540,000 tons as the industry continues to expand its overseas presence. Exports are forecast to increase 9% to 290,000 tons as shipments to all markets continue to expand. Hail and frost in the spring then heavy rains during bloom mean Turkey’s production will be cut 13%, to 1.9 million tons. The lower output and resulting price hikes will in turn provoke a 17% fall in its exports, to 170,000 tons, the USDA estimates. Global consumption of fresh table grapes is set to grow for the 5th consecutive year, going from just over 15.6 million tons in 2009/10 to nearly 20.2 million tons this year, which amounts to a gain of nearly 30%.

Source: “Fresh Deciduous Fruit (Apples, Grapes, & Pears): World Markets and Trade” December 2014, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

From edition 135 of Eurofresh Distribution magazine.


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South Africa dominating German market with its late season table grapes

ble graph table grapes


A glut of table grapes on the market earlier in the season has seen prices crumble in Europe, as this graph from Germany’s Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) shows.

In its market report to the end of week 4 of 2015, the BLE said South African growers are dominating table grape imports into Germany, mainly with the seedless grapes Prime, Flame and Thompson.

Also taking advantage of a window of opportunity as the Southern Hemisphere production winds down are suppliers from Namibia, with the same varieties as South Africa but also some Sugraone and Dan Ben Hannah.

The supply of Peruvian and Brazilian grapes has continued to taper off, the BLE said.

In 2013 Germany imported nearly 320,000 tons of fresh table grapes, with two fifths coming from Italy and an eighth from Greece.



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Chile’s table grape, pear and apple production bouncing back



Mother Nature has smiled on Chile lately, with weather favouring increases in its apple, table grape and pear crops for next year, according to new forecasts from the USDA. Table grape and pear production are set to climb 14.2% and 8.6% respectively, it said in its report, “Chile: Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual”.


Fresh table grapes

Stable weather conditions in all production areas augurs for a 14.2% increase to about 1.2 million tons of table grapes for Chile’s 2015 marketing season, starting in January, the USDA reported.

Table grape export volumes are expected to rise 14.6% on last year thanks to both the higher production and more consignment shipments of table grapes. The US is Chile’s main foreign market for table grapes, taking more than 40% of exports, with the EU the next biggest.

More than 36 varieties of table grapes are grown for export in Chile but Thompson Seedless and Flame Seedless account for the bulk of production.



Producers are forecasting a harvest of about 1.4 million tons – about three quarters of them red apples – for the coming production season (January–December 2015). Higher than usual temperatures in spring are not expected to reduce the quality or volume of the crop.

The USDA said Chilean apple growers have been increasing orchard density and replacing traditional varieties, such as Red Delicious and its variations, with new, more productive varieties, such as Fuji, Gala, Jonathan, Braeburn, Pink Lady and Galaxies.

“As a result we expect that output will expand under normal weather conditions in the coming years,” it said. The US continues to be Chile’s strongest export market for apples.


Fresh pears

The USDA said it was still too early for a good estimate of pear volumes but noted the weather had been “good for fruit fresh fruit in general.” The most recent winter provided enough chill hours for good budding and thus an 8.6% increase on last year’s production is expected for the 2015 marketing season, which would mean about 290,000 tons

Packam’s Triumph and Beurre Bosc comprise more than 60% of Chile’s exports, which are expected to increase by 9% on 2014, in line with the higher output. Nearly half Chile’s pear exports go to the EU, the USDA said.



Read the report.


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US to spend $173.2 million promoting exports of its farm products

borrar usda logo

The US Government has announced funds of more than $173 million to be used next year to increase exports of American agricultural products.

Washington apple growers, Florida citrus producers, California’s table grape sector and the Northwest pear industry are among those set to benefit from multi-million dollar allocations.


Cranberry, cling peach, cherry, sweet potato, tomato, and organic produce organisations are also among the recipients.


Through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Market Access Program (MAP), the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) will provide $173.2 million (up from nearly $172 million last year) to 62 nonprofit organisations and cooperatives. Participants contribute an average 214% match for generic marketing and promotion activities and a dollar-for-dollar match for promotion of branded products by small businesses and cooperatives.


MAP focuses on consumer promotion, including brand promotion for small companies and cooperatives, and is used extensively by organisations promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts, processed products, and bulk and intermediate commodities.


Meanwhile, under the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program (also known as the Cooperator Program), FAS will allocate $26.7 million (up from $24.6 million last year) to 22 trade organizations that represent U.S. agricultural producers.


The FMD program focuses on trade servicing and capacity building by helping to create, expand and maintain long-term export markets for US agricultural products.


An independent study released in 2010 found that trade promotion programs like MAP and FMD provide $35 in economic benefits for every dollar spent by government and industry on market development, the USDA said in a press release.


“The past six years represent the strongest period for U.S. agricultural exports in the history of the United States. Farm exports in fiscal year 2014 reached a record $152.5 billion and supported 1 million jobs in the United States,” it also said.

Here is our summary of this year and last year’s funding most relevant to the fresh fruit and vegetable sector:


USDA Market Access Program (MAP) funding: Participant FY 2015 Allocation FY 2014 Allocation
Food Export Association of Midwest $10,272,114 $9,637,643
Food Export USA Northeast $8,896,086 $8,138,985
Western US Agricultural Trade Association $7,705,129 $8,097,508
Southern United States Trade Association $7,152,346 $5,874,329
Washington Apple Commission $5,179,019 $4,930,752
National Potato Promotion Board $4,998,822 $3,647,427
Florida Department of Citrus $4,383,830 $3,885,364
California Table Grape Commission $3,424,871 $3,093,070
Pear Bureau Northwest $3,069,707 $2,926,873
California Prune Board $3,023,063 $2,668,406
Raisin Administrative Committee $3,018,117 $827,922
Sunkist Growers, Inc. $2,660,274 $2,372,577
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture $2,329,520 $3,533,072
Cranberry Marketing Committee* $1,791,836 $1,561,170
Washington State Fruit Commission $1,685,709 $1,361,810
U.S. Apple Export Council $998,650 $712,727
Welch Foods, Inc. $932,734 $834,411
California Agricultural Export Council $861,378 $1,228,525
Organic Trade Association $784,902 $746,912
Intertribal Agriculture Council $728,492 $642,528
California Cling Peach Growers Advisory Board $500,182 $444,892
California Pear Advisory Board $468,842 $442,081
California Cherry Marketing and Research Board $443,722 $519,189
New York Wine and Grape Foundation $422,674 $484,886
California Grape and Tree Fruit League $413,125 $420,800
Synergistic Hawaii Agriculture Council $379,415 $388,412
Cherry Marketing Institute $290,042 $204,115
American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute $200,000 $200,000
Florida Tomato Committee $3,578  
National Watermelon Promotion Board   $290,367
*Cranberry Marketing Committee also received the following in Foreign Market Development Funds (FMD) $182,665 $153,754


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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”