Last year was a near–record in terms of US farm exports to Taiwan, the USDA reported this week.
It also said demand from Taiwan consumers is pushing up expanding the market for diverse imports, including for fruit, vegetables and tree nuts.
The US is Taiwan’s leading source of farm products overall – supplying about a quarter of Taiwan’s total agricultural imports – and of most varieties of imported fresh fruit. Its respective shares of the import market in what is one of Asia’s big traders includes apples 39%, cherries 50%, peaches and nectarines 76%, table grapes 62%, plums 78%, oranges 81% and berries 79%.
The US also holds a dominant market share for most vegetables, including broccoli 96%, onion 87%, lettuce 99% and potatoes 96%, the USDA said.
Given the island’s relatively small agricultural sector, its dependence on imports is expected to keep increasing, it said.
Also growth in ready-to-eat foods
In 2013, Taiwan’s fresh fruit and vegetable segment grew 80% on 2012 and the 7-Eleven convenience store chain – which sells about 3,000 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables a year – expected fresh fruit and vegetable sales to rise by a tenth last year.
Convenience stores are now major players in Taiwan’s growing market for ready-to-eat foods such as fruit (mainly, bananas, apples and yams) and lunch boxes, the USDA said. 7-Eleven started selling fresh fruit in 2010 and its annual banana sales volume have reached more than 1,000 tons.
Increase expected in indirect imports of fresh fruit by Taiwan’s retailers
Industry sources estimate that about 15% of Taiwan’s imported fresh fruit is now imported directly by supermarkets, hypermarkets, and warehouse stores. The rest is imported by importers/distributors.
“Direct import of fresh fruit by retail stores is expected to continue to increase in the next few years,” the USDA said.
However, it also said sales of imported goods in traditional markets should not be overlooked. Industry sources estimate about 55% of imported fruit from the US is sold in wet markets island–wide.
Both published by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural INformation Network (GAIN)