How have your sales of Spanish citrus progressed in China this season? Has the market response been as good as you'd hoped?
Holger Brandt: SanLucar’s goal is to identify those varieties that are best suited to the Chinese market and to the customer and consumer profile. We are in the early stages of our foray into the country and rather than shipping big volumes, our priority for 2016 is to learn more about the market preferences. As a result of our market research, we have decided to enter China with products such as mandarins – especially Orri and Tango, oranges like Late Navels or Midknight, and Star Ruby grapefruit. By offering the right varieties together with excellent quality we are pleased to see that the market response has been very positive and even exceeded our expectations.
Will you be shipping any stonefruit to China this season now that the import protocol for Spanish stonefruit has been agreed?
HB: Although our stonefruit season coincides with local production in China, we are convinced that the strength and value of the SanLucar brand and high quality standards that lie behind it, together with a strategy based on product differentiation, will be the key to succeed. We do not expect to send big volumes in this first year, but some airflown shipments of flat peaches will be made, while other product selection is still under discussion.
How do you see the prospects for Spanish stonefruit in China generally?
HB: Stonefruit is becoming increasingly popular in China and SanLucar is ready to make the most of this new opportunity. We see great potential for our growers’ high quality products, and we are sure that our fruits and vegetables will appeal to Chinese consumers. We are definitely ready to demonstrate the potential of Spanish stonefruit! And even though transporting product by sea from Spain to China could be a challenge, we have the experience to ensure the arrival of our products in the best condition.
What new developments have there been with regards to your business elsewhere in Asia? Are you seeing continued growth in Singapore and your other Asian markets?
HB: Asia offers a huge amount of opportunities but our plan is to grow step by step. Naturally, China is the core market in terms of our strategy on the continent. Nevertheless, we also expect other countries like Singapore to keep on growing. We are not interested in supplying every market, but rather are targeting those where our product concept could fit better.
Finally, what plans do you have for the remainder of 2016? What are the key projects you will be working on?
HB: As mentioned before, our overall objective is to consolidate our relationships with our customers and differentiate our products through their outstanding quality. We see 2016 as a year in which to build trust so that we can keep evolving in the future – a future in which we can share our great-tasting fruit and our successful brand concept with our clients in China.