Beijings’s move to impose severe traffic restrictions in and around the city for the upcoming Olympic Games is not preventing fruit distributors from supplying produce to meet demand for the event, according to local importers.
While China last week threw a tight security perimeter around Beijing, causing huge traffic jams for motorists entering the capital, importers said that fresh food deliveries had special exemption to enter the city, albeit under tighter regulations. “There is a green lane for fresh produce cargo, but it must be carried in proper trucks with appropriate documentation,” said Goldland’s Eric Choo.
Nevertheless, some distributors report that transportation costs have soared, driven by rising petrol prices. “It now costs us up to Yn15,000 per container to transport fruit from the port of Tianjin to Beijing, whereas it used to cost us Yn2,000 per container,” Miao Jing of Tianjin Long Beach Commerce and Trade Co told Fruitnet.com.
Trucks are also facing difficulties leaving the port of Tianjin for Beijing, which is leading some importers to bring in product via Shanghai or Hong Kong instead, said Sarah McCormack of Dalice.
Tianjin Long Beach is considering importing fruit through Shanghai due to slow quarantine inspection procedures in Tianjin. “It is taking up to 8-10 days for our cargo to clear customs in Tianjin,” said Mr Miao. “All shipments have to be inspected in an assigned area and this adds significantly to our costs.”
Many Chinese importers expected the Games, with its influx of tourists, to generate strong demand for fresh fruits, but sales have largely failed to live up to expectation so far. “A lot of apple exporters in Shandong stored their Fuji apples in anticipation of making big money for the Olympics, but they’ve all incurred losses,” said Mr Choo.
Importers are hopeful that market demand will pick up in the next two weeks as the event draws closer.