Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have officially ratified an agreement opening the door for imports of Mexican berries into the Asian country. The signing took place during a visit by the Mexican premier to Beijing this week which saw a total of 14 agreements in the banking, energy, technology and food industries worth an estimated US$7.4bn.
In September the two countries signed a preliminary protocol to allow imports of Mexican raspberry and blackberry exports to China following earlier visits by AQSIQ officials to Mexico, in December 2013 and again in March this year, to ensure Mexico’s production facilities met international food safety standards.
Mexico produced 270,000 tonnes of berries with a value of US$900m last year, of which approximately 90 per cent is exported. Around 94 per cent of shipments are destined for North America, and although sales continue to grow, producers are seeking to reduce their reliance on this market and exploit the strong health and nutritional message associated with berry consumption to open up new markets.
Mario Andrade, president of national producer association Aneberries, said although blackberries and raspberries are relatively little known in China he believed there is potential for both products to do well.
“Many Chinese are ‘status buyers’ and there is the potential to tap into that, especially given the high antioxidant properties that berries possess – particularly blackberries,” he told Fruitnet.
Andrade added that the introduction of direct cargo flights from Guadalajara to Hong Kong late last year had been a major step in boosting sendings to Hong Kong and the next step will be an industry-wide marketing campaign. “We are currently in talks with government agency Sagarpa and expect to launch our first campaign in 2015,” he said.