Belrose president Des O’Rourke has encouraged fruit and vegetable exporters to approach each Asian market on its merits.
Speaking at the second session of Asiafruit Congress in Hong Kong this morning (3 September), O’Rourke said the growth of population bases and economies across Asia were presenting exporters with unprecedented trade opportunities.
However, he warned each Asian nation is at a different stage of their expansion, requiring a specific approach to each market’s development.
“If we take China as an example, the mix of products it imports will continue to change as the size and demographic changes,” O’Rourke said.
“The same applies for India and nations in South East Asia, but the rate of development for each market varies.”
O’Rourke said it was important growers and exporters were in touch with the markets they were trying to develop.
“If you are developing new varieties for Indonesia, go to Indonesia, don’t push a variety developed for a US or European market because in Asia it will not work.”
It was a sentiment shared by the session’s other presenter Wayne Prowse from Fresh Intelligence Consulting.
Citing statistics from the International Trade Centre, Prowse highlighted that product preferences varied in each Asian market.
While some imports in some markets are dominated by a particular sector, Prowse stressed trade opportunities should not be viewed as limited.
“It you look at fruit and vegetable imports in China, the produce imported is almost wholly fruit,” Prowse said.
“It doesn’t mean Chinese consumers don’t eat vegetables, it just means they are reliant on their domestic market. Some exporters see this as a challenge to develop vegetable imports, while others see this as an opportunity.”
While Prowse said China, Hong Kong and Japan make up over 50 per cent of the fresh fruit import trade in Asia, he also encouraged exporters to look beyond the region’s major markets.
“Singapore imports 70kg of fruit per person, per year, which is about 200g or a piece of fruit per day,” Prowse said.
“Due to their almost non-existent production base imports is what they consume, so there is definitely potential to grow the market there."