Spain looks set to become a more important supplier of fresh fruit to China in the future, and Chinese importers recently took a tour of some of the European exporting nation’s key production regions to learn about the industry and explore procurement opportunities.
Co-organised by the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX) and Shanghai Huizhan Wholesale Market, the fruit importer delegation visited key fruit growing, packing and exporting operations in Valencia, Murcia and Seville on 27 February to 8 March.
The delegation compromised major wholesalers not only from Shanghai, but also from fast-growing satellite cities in the Yangtze River Delta region, such as Jiaxing, Wuxi and Wuhan.
Spanish citrus shipments to China have taken off over the past four years, with the European exporting nation securing a solid share of the orange import market. As well as working to develop this trade, the delegation explored opportunities for other categories such as stonefruits, which gained access to China last year, Kurt Huang of Shanghai Huizhan Wholesale Market explained.
While Spanish citrus has had access to the Chinese market since 2005, shipments were negligible until China suspended imports of California citrus in April 2013 due to findings of brown rot.
Chinese importers were forced to find alternative sources of citrus and Spain seized the opportunity. “Spanish oranges performed well in the Chinese market,” said Huang. “So by the time California regained access, Spanish oranges had already had a firm market share”
While Chinese importers are familiar with the traditional supplying countries for imported fruits such as the US, Chile and Australia, Huang said that Spain was a new sourcing origin for China, with both suppliers and buyers having much to learn from one another.
Spanish peaches and plums secured access to China in 2016, while an import protocol for Spanish grapes is in the pipeline, and Huang said there is a good potential to develop trade. “Spain is already a leading supplier of fresh produce for Europe, but we expect it to become one of the key suppliers to the Chinese market in future providing improved choice for Chinese consumers.”