Peruvian grape exporters should follow Chile’s lead and make greater use of online sales platforms to boost their sales in the Chinese market, according to Miguel Gálvez Escobar of the Peruvian Chamber of Commerce in China (Capechi).
Announcing a 30 per cent drop in shipments to China and Hong Kong last year, Gálvez said that better marketing and more attractive packaging were also vital if Peru is to halt the slide in prices seen over the past two years.
Peru shipped 59,400 tonnes of table grapes to these two markets in 2016, down from 80,000 tonnes in the previous year. The value of exports fell from US$163m to US$115m.
“Exports to China and Hong Kong continue to fall, a trend which began in 2015 and accelerated last year,” Gálvez said.
More worryingly, he noted that prices were declining year-on-year as supply from other countries increased and Peruvian grapes ceased to be a novelty and became more established in the market.
Leading importers have argued that Peru – and Chile – should focus on exporting lower volumes of better quality grapes to China if they are to avoid being punished by the market.
Speaking to Fresh Focus Latin America recently, Rod Hill of Golden Wing Mau said: “Both Peru and Chile are guilty of sending fruit unsuitable for the market. Last year Chile sent volumes the likes of which had never been seen before in China.”
The Chinese market is less and less interested in taking fruit that does not reach its specifications, according to Ignacio Smith of T&G Global in Shanghai.
“South American grape growers either need to get up to speed with what the Chinese market wants or face poor returns in future.”
Red Globe is no longer considered a “fancy” variety in China, so if suppliers want to push volume they must accept a lower return and expect to be punished if the quality is not up to par, according to Kurt Huang of importer Fruitease.
The situation in the current season is likely to be even more complicated, with the early start to the Chilean campaign clashing with Peruvian production.
Between October and December, Peru exported 22,000 tonnes of grapes to China and Hong Kong with a value of US$41.7m, compared with 27,000 tonnes (US$53.2m) in the year-earlier period, of which 94 per cent was Red Globe.