With some 478 companies from 38 different countries exhibiting at Asia Fruit Logistica, there was a wide range of products and services on show. From debut exhibitors to new products, Asiafruit interviews a cross-section of exhibitors to provide a snapshot of the key developments.
Seven Star Fruits (India)
First time exhibitor Seven Star Fruits formed part of a strong Indian presence at this year’s show. Seven Star’s manager of domestic and international business, Girish Sarda, said the event had helped draw attention to his company’s table grape offering, which entered China for the first time last season. “Our major market is Europe, along with some of South East Asia,” Sarda said. “We had a good response from customers in new destinations, including a lot from China.”
Almond Board of Australia (Australia)
Asia Fruit Logistica 2014 helped the Almond Board of Australia (ABA) break new ground. “While we have taken stands at a number of fine foods shows around the world, this is the first time we have exhibited at a dedicated fresh fruit and vegetable exhibition,” ABA’s marketing programme manager Joseph Ebbage said. “We see a huge opportunity to position our product and tell the health story of Australian almonds as part of the fresh produce category at events like this.”
Campo y Tierra del Jerte (Spain)
Campo y Tierra del Jerte was one of several Spanish companies exhibiting at Asia Fruit Logistica for the first time. The cherry producer carried out its first shipments to Hong Kong three years ago and has been building its volume to the region since then. Commercial director Raúl Heras said switching to varieties that produce larger and firmer cherries with a longer shelf-life has opened up new markets beyond Europe. “Asia Fruit Logistica has become a must-attend event for exporters to Asia and by exhibiting we hope to consolidate the work we’ve been doing up to now and expand our client base in the region,” he noted.
Anhui BBCA International (China)
With a Chinese restaurant-styled booth for Anhui BBCA International, import manager Sophie Wang said the China-based fresh fruit import company wanted to stand out. “We want to do something different,” said Wang. “And tie in a bit of the traditional Chinese style.” While Wang said the company is interested in bringing new varieties into China and expanding its business, the focus at Asia Fruit Logistica was to develop partnerships with the right people. “We don’t want to work with a lot of companies, just a few good ones that understand Chinese consumers.”
While the Chinese market for organic fruit is still in its infancy, Patrick Struebi of Fairtrasa believes there is huge potential to develop sales in the coming years. Fairtrasa packs and ships organic and Fairtrade fruit and vegetables from Latin America to markets around the world. “We decided to exhibit at Asia Fruit Logistica as we’ve recently been receiving a lot of interest for our organic fruit in China, particularly bananas and avocados,” he said, adding that a small number of Chinese supermarkets are starting to stock organic lines. In terms of Fairtrade, he noted that Asia “lags way behind” other markets.
Grupa Sad Export (Poland)
Grupa Sad Export is the first Polish company to exhibit at Asia Fruit Logistica, having spent two years investigating the possibilities for Polish apples in Asia. According to managing director Michał Glijer, the move was designed to reduce the company’s dependence on Russia and Belarus. “We came to see what customers here were looking for,” he said. “From what we have seen, there is a place on this market for Polish apples, particularly red varieties such as Sampion. We met companies from Malaysia, Taiwan and southern China, and they were very interested.”
New Zealand Avocado (New Zealand)
Peak industry body New Zealand Avocado launched its new export market promotional material at Asia Fruit Logistica 2014. New Zealand Avocado Growers Association chairman Ashby Whitehead said the show had been an enormous success. “While it’s hard to quantify what sort of revenue will be generated through our first participation at this show, it has been a very worthwhile experience that has helped us raise our profile considerably,” he said.
Egypt’s presence at Asia Fruit Logistica has grown rapidly in the last few years, from six companies four years ago to a total of 31 at this year’s fair, including Magrabi Agriculture, Ghabbour Farms, Trade Waves, EGCT and Gouda, whose Hany Gouda spoke of the importance of the Malaysian and Indian markets for Egyptian companies. One Egyptian firm not exhibiting this year, but attending only as a visitor, was Pico Modern Agriculture, whose business development manager, Heike Hagenguth, described the Asian market as “the new Europe”. “Spending power is increasing, supermarkets are eyeing the market, multinationals are setting up,” she said. “If you do it right, then Asia is the future for Egyptian exporters.”
Greece’s Oporello, located in the central region of Larissa, began its first kiwifruit shipments to China last year, with plans afoot to increase volumes this coming season, according to the company’s Dimitrios Manis. “There is a protocol for Greek kiwifruit,” he said, “ but we want this to be extended to other fruits. There is big interest for Greek apples in China, and we believe they can be highly competitive on this market.”
Pink Lady Development unveiled its new brand development manager for South East Asia at this year’s exhibition. Ryan Au is based in the company’s new office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and will offer local support to the brand. “Pink Lady has been established in Europe for a long time,” he said, “and we want to bring that excitement to Asia, where we see huge potential. Pink Lady has been exported to Asia so far without much marketing support, so now we need to work on brand recognition.”
Singapore-based logistics company APL is no new face to Asia Fruit Logistica, but it launched its newly branded cool chain system at this year’s trade show. Head of APL’s special cargo team, Kar Loke Ng, has brought more than 20 years of experience to APL’s stand this year. “We know a fair few of the customers here, but having said that, we don’t know them all. Walking the floor, we have customers coming to us after hearing about us from their buyers or sellers, and it gives us the chance to meet them face to face,” said Ng. “You have the growers here, the marketing people, and we can talk to all of these people and get a different perspective, which enhances our understanding.”
INI Farms (India)
Having ramped up its banana export programme earlier this year, Mumbai-based INI Farms was happy to service a diverse base of existing and prospective customers from across the world. “We have met with customers from Dubai, Muscat and Oman, where we traded last year,” INI Farms’ chief executive Purnima Khandelwal explained. “We have also had customers from Asia, Europe and North America stop by to ask us about our products.”
BC Blueberry Council (Canada)
A first time exhibitor at Asia Fruit Logistica, the BC Blueberry Council feels it needs to promote overseas as blueberry production is steadily on the rise in the Canadian province of British Columbia. “Production jumped by 25 percent from 54,000 tonnes to 68,000 this season,” said executive director Debbie Etsell. “We’re here at Asia Fruit Logistica to lay the groundwork for future sales to the Asian market.” Etsell expects both mainland China and South Korea to grant market access for BC blueberries in the near future. “South East Asia markets, including Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, are part of our long-term strategy as well.”
Rijk Zwaan (Netherlands)
Dutch seed specialist Rijk Zwaan was in Hong Kong to promote a number of new lines for which the company sees potential in the Asian market. These included the Brioso cocktail tomato, which offers a good combination of flavour and productivity, the Caprisia tomato, which is ideal for cultivation in high-tech greenhouse conditions, mini-cucumbers, Palermo Originals peppers, the Doufu small beef tomato, which has been specifically developed for Malaysia’s plant-dense conditions, and salad varieties Salanova and Crunchita. “Our biggest market in Asia is China,” said marketing and business development manager Jan Doldersum, “while the likes of India and Vietnam are developing quickly.”
Sichuan Longtime Lemon Development (China)
Growing lemons from October to May and bridging the seasonal gap with South African imports, lemon importer-exporter Sichuan Longtime Lemon Development is looking to expand its lemon business. “It’s our first time at Asia Fruit Logistica,” said deputy general manager Liao Cheng Jun. “We used to just sell within Asia, but now we want to look to increase our customers globally.”
Gina Fruit (Ecuador)
First time exhibitor Gina Fruit is one of several Ecuadorean banana shippers enjoying huge demand in China right now, but general manager Hugo Castro is unsure how the market will develop in the long-term. The company started exporting to Japan five years ago and recently became the first Ecuadorean banana exporter to ship to Singapore. It is now trialling shipments to Mongolia, although it remains to be seen how the fruit will withstand the 45-day journey.
Beachside Produce (US)
A major grower and exporter of California vegetables to Asia, Beachside Produce is pleased to see demand growing for other categories beyond the traditional broccoli and lettuce. “South East Asia is showing considerable interest in ‘unique’ items such as artichokes and brussel sprouts,” said export sales manager Derrick Stinnett. “But iceberg (lettuce) remains in high demand in the traditional Asian markets such as South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. If China ever opens its market to iceberg and other vegetable categories, the impact on the US domestic market will be significant.”
Royal Co (Japan)
Having been a visitor for the past five years, Japanese company Royal Co made its debut as an exhibitor this year. The booth was supported by the Kyoto government, which is keen to increase its export business, focusing on vegetables that are grown locally, with chefs on hand to slice up the fruit and vegetables. “Our main items on show are vegetables grown in Kyoto, but everyone at this show is more interested in our fruit,” said Royal’s Takashi Uchida. “This is the first trial for the local Kyoto government and we are working to increase our export markets.”
Compac (New Zealand)
Exhibiting as part of the New Zealand pavilion for the first time, leading sorting equipment manufacturer Compac was pleasantly surprised by the volume of traffic to its stand. “We’ve had a really good position, attracting a lot of visitors who initially came to see other New Zealand exhibitors,” Compac’s Bob Shaw said. “We have had a lot more interest from Chinese companies in particular.”
Summerland Varieties Corp (Canada)
Global demand for sweet cherries has grown exponentially in recent years due in part to the introduction of appealing new varieties developed by the Pacific Agricultural Research Centre (PARC) of British Columbia. These varieties include Sweetheart, Skeena and Staccato and are commercially managed in Canada and abroad by Summerland Varieties Corporation (SVC), which was exhibiting at Hong Kong trade fair for the first time. According to operations manager Nick Ibuki, SVC’s clientele range from small farmers to large, vertically integrated grower operations as well as nurseries, many of whom were in attendance at Asia Fruit Logistica.
Mario Andrade of Mexican berry association Aneberries was surprised by the level of interest he has seen from visitors to Asia Fruit Logistica for Mexican-grown blackberries. “We haven’t yet carried out any market studies and my feeling is that it could be very difficult to introduce such a little known product,” he said. “Having said that, many Chinese are ‘status buyers’ and could find a product like this very appealing given its high antioxidant properties.”
National Centre for Palms & Dates (Saudi Arabia)
The National Centre for Palms & Dates this year became the first Saudi Arabian company to exhibit at ASIA FRUIT LOGISTICA. Since the Saudi market stands as the biggest consumer of dates in the world, exporting has never been a priority for the country’s producers. However, the creation of the National Centre in 2011 looks set to change all that. Currently less than 5 per cent of total production is exported, but the Centre wants to increase this figure to at least 10 per cent within three years, according to its international marketing specialist, Abdullah F Alyahya. “China is a huge market,” he said. “We know we have the quality and varieties to compete with the likes of Tunisia and Israel, and our production is much larger. It is now about making the right connections and building the right relationships with importers.”
Avoterra by Index Fresh (US)
This was the second consecutive year for avocado grower-exporter Avoterra-Index Fresh exhibiting at Asia Fruit Logistica. According to international programme director Brian Gomez, the company plans to be back again in 2015. “We feel Asia is the next boom market for Hass avocados,” said Gomez. “There’s huge potential in China as only one percent of the 1.3bn consumers have any familiarity with avocados.” Gomez said Avoterra has been exporting both Mexican and California-grown Hass to Asia for a couple of years and conducting in-store tastings with a large Hong Kong retailer to help raise the consumer awareness of avocados.
Sandro Farfán of Peruvian table grape producer association Provid believes the industry is entering a new phase of consolidation following years of unhindered expansion. “We need to organise ourselves better, to carry out more market analysis and try and programme our season better,” he noted. With production forecast to rise by 20 per cent this year – a modest estimate in Farfán’s opinion – the industry is looking to consolidate its position in key export markets. China is the leading destination, while elsewhere in Asia Farfán is confident that Peruvian grapes will have secured access to the Japanese market ahead of the 2015/16 season.