New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries and China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) signed an import protocol on 25 June, allowing New Zealand persimmon imports into China.
The import protocols require in-orchard pest control, cold treatment and pest-proofing of packaging, explained Ian Turk, Manager of industry body NZ Persimmon Industry Council.
“The new protocols introduce requirements for growers, packers and exporters that we have not had in the past so we have a bit to learn in the first season,” Brian Pepper, persimmon product manager at New Zealand First Fresh told Fruitnet. “I think it will be a case of establishing good sales networks and distribution channels that will enable us to completing a small but successful programme in the first season rather than getting too big too fast.”
Turk agreed, adding that while the industry has high hopes that China will become a major export destination, persimmon trade will start cautiously.
“We have been working on access for several years, so Chinese importers who already work with New Zealand on other fruit lines will be well aware that this has been happening,” Turk said. “Our exporters are getting strong interest already from those who are aware that the trade will be opening up, and who are well experienced in doing business with New Zealand fruit and produce. We do expect strong demand for New Zealand persimmons that will be supplying the local market during the domestic off-season.”
Marketing and promotional activities are potentially on the cards for the 2016 season, which runs from mid-April to August, with exporters and the New Zealand Persimmon Industry Council waiting for access to be approved before committing to marketing strategies, Pepper told Fruitnet.
“I am expecting some local promotions to give a profile to the new product, but in the first season our priority is to deliver a top quality product to the market,” Turk added. “We are excited about having access to the Chinese market, and the industry is working hard to have procedures in place, so that everyone involved knows their role in achieving the import protocols, and has clear guidelines on what standards they have to achieve.”
New Zealand is the second country to gain access to China for persimmons after Taiwan.