The South African table grape industry launched its Chinese market development programme in Guangzhou, China today (1 April) in front of a large trade and media audience.
The launch, which took place at the Jiangnonghui Fruit Wholesale market, marked a significant new step forward in the country's efforts to improve its position in China.
Although no growers and members of the South African business could be present at Jiangnonghui, the event was also celebrated in South Africa.
"The event symbolically marked the official beginning of the 2021 South African table grape season in China, which brings to the market its premium quality, highly demanded varieties grown by South Africa’s export-oriented growers,” said industry organisation SATI in a statement. “Traders and consumers in China will benefit from SATI’s 'China Specification', exclusively developed to ensure the best possible South African table grapes are provided to this highly discerning market.”
Celebrating the news
SATI partnered with leading Chinese fresh fruit importer and distributor Goodfarmer to stage the celebration, which took place both on a main stage and with ancillary activities throughout the market.
Freshly imported shipments of South African Crimson Seedless, Sweet Globe, Sweet Sapphire and Sweet Joy table grapes from importers Rui Ocean and Berda Fruit were featured.
A highlight of the event was the Lion Awakening Ceremony, which represented the ties between South African table grapes and the Chinese fruit industry through the imagery of the lion.
The lion, perhaps one of South Africa’s best known wildlife species is both an important cultural icon in China and symbolises South Africa’s world-renowned wildlife resources.
China's growing importance
SATI highlighted how Europe had historically been the main destination for its fruit exports, but said the promotional campaign reflected the Chinese market’s growing importance.
“SATI is proud and excited to launch its first ever South African Table Grapes Market Development campaign in China,” said Willem Bestbier, chief executive officer of SATI. “This campaign brings together specially selected growers and exporters from our beautiful and diverse country, South Africa, and renowned importers, wholesale markets, the trade and retail in China.
"The aim is to showcase South African table grapes that are truly worthy of the campaign slogan ‘Beautiful Country, Beautiful Fruit’.”
“South Africa is a beautiful country with a unique geography and climate well-suited to cultivating premium quality fruits, of which its fresh, sweet, juicy and crisp table grapes are among the best,” said Eric Zheng, general manager of Shanghai Goodfarmer Apple.
“We at Goodfarmer are committed to providing consumers with healthy, delicious fruit and vegetable products through our network of distribution centers and wholesale market sales centers covering 26 provincial capitals across China.”
Zheng noted that the company was looking forward forward to working with SATI and other partners to give more consumers in China access to South African table grapes.
More than 90 per cent of South Africa’s table grape production is seedless, and the diverse growing conditions make it possible to cultivate a broad range of mostly new generation table grape varieties.
SATI has developed a range of initiatives and marketing assets to support its new China campaign, which will continue over coming seasons in the form of educational events, trade outreach, retail promotions and more.
These include a Chinese-language campaign logo, a dedicated website and newsletter, and Chinese-language promotional materials.
The campaign is being delivered in partnership with the Department of Agriculture of the Western Cape, the key table grape growing region of South Africa. It also enjoys the support of the exporters’ organisation the Fresh Produce Exporters Forum (FPEF).
“The objective is continuous improvement towards a quality, safe and healthy product exhibiting excellent eating quality – juicy, sweet and crunchy table grapes for Chinese consumers to enjoy,” said Bestbier. “This will be achieved in a long-term and mutually beneficial partnership and our commitment to the Chinese market.
"We wish everybody a successful campaign, enjoy our table grapes and we warmly invite you to engage with us on this exciting journey."