Dutch fresh produce marketer Levarht has become the first company to ship a consignment of peppers by air from the Netherlands to China, increasing the likelihood that the Asian country will open its doors permanently to Dutch peppers in 2017.
Thanks to what the exporter hailed as “strong co-operation” between growers, customers and logistics partners in both countries, Chinese consumers have been able to buy and enjoy fresh Dutch peppers just four days after harvesting.
The breakthrough follows a period of intensive negotiations between officials at the Chinese import authority AQSIQ and Dutch quality control bureau KCB.
The two organisations have been working to develop an agreed protocol in order to establish a secure supply line for Dutch produce sold into China.
While evidently a supply line that requires a certain premium to be paid in the market itself, a spokesperson for Levarht said the group believed the commercial potential of airflown peppers to clients in China was strong.
“Chinese consumers are demanding, especially on taste, food-safety, freshness and quality, and keen on pricing,” they commented.
The attraction of sourcing a very fresh product grown in a hi-tech glasshouse that is guaranteed to offer consistency in terms of taste and safety was apparently also an important factor.
“From our intense cooperation with all partners in the supply chain, we are able to limit the time from ‘field to fork’ substantially, so freshness can be guaranteed,” the spokesperson added.
“Despite the higher costs to bring the Dutch produce to the Chinese consumers, we are able to obtain a very competitive market price for these unique products.”
During a two-week trial in July, Levarht also promoted Dutch peppers to consumers with in-market PR activities highlighting their versatility; the campaign aimed to market peppers not only as an ingredient in hot dishes but also as something eaten cold in salads or as healthy snacks.
“This [success] motivates us even more in trying to build the market and grow consumption together with our partners in the market. We are confident that the authorities will give us a final go and open the Chinese market as of 2017.”