A panel discussion at Asiafruit Congress 2017

Asia’s premier fresh produce conference event celebrates its 20th anniversary this September in Hong Kong. To mark the milestone, organiser Asiafruit Magazine will open this year’s Asiafruit Congress with a look back at how the market in Asia has changed since the event launched back in 1998 – and wrap up with a session focusing on the keys to future business success in Asia.

Asiafruit Magazine will be joined in the opening session – Asiafruit Congress: two decades of change – by an expert panel to discuss the developments they have seen over the past 20 years, and how the market is changing now. The expert panel includes Noel Shield, chief executive of powerhouse distributor Joy Wing Mau Asia Holdings; Patrick Vizzone, international head of food, beverage and agribusiness at ANZ Bank in Hong Kong; and Bill Young, senior export account manager at leading US grower-packer-shipper Stemilt.

“We started Asiafruit Congress 20 years ago to give people in the business a platform to come together, and it’s been fascinating to discuss and debate the evolution of the markets over the years,” says Chris White, managing director of Asiafruit publisher Fruitnet Media International, who has moderated every edition of the annual conference since its inception in Singapore in 1998.

“Much of the discussion has focused on the rapid market growth, but the business here in Asia is now maturing into adulthood and there are new challenges to face. We’re delighted to be joined by a panel of speakers who have made key contributions to the conference over the years to talk about how the market has changed, and where it’s headed.”

The final session – Asiafruit Congress at 20: Asia gets ready for its future – homes in on some of the emerging products and markets to watch in Asia through quick-fire Q&As, before closing out with an expert perspective on the keys to future business success from Mette Knudsen, chief executive of consultancy Knudsen&Co.

Vietnam comes under the spotlight in the Q&As. Siebe van Wijk of Fresh Studio shares the company’s latest insights into this fast-moving market, looking at the rapid growth of fruit import brands in the country’s modern retail trade.

Knudsen&Co has ten years’ experience of marketing to Chinese consumers, from traditional retail to online mobile channels. In her closing address, Knudsen outlines how she sees the consumer market evolving in China, and in Asia more broadly. She shares her strategic advice on the challenges ahead, and the pathways to future business success.

Workshop programme

Delegates to Asiafruit Congress can also choose from four afternoon workshop sessions spotlighting an exciting range of subjects.

JongKyu Jang, director of Seoul-based Latitude, leads a session on the opportunities in the dynamic Korean market, bringing his unique consumer insights. Providing innovative in-market services for companies looking to establish or develop their presence in Korea, Latitude has already played a role in the country’s recent avocado boom, and it is representing many other fresh foods including those destined for the health functional foods sector.

Asia’s traditional food retail trade is massive, and a parallel session explores more effective marketing to this complex channel. India and Indonesia are two vast emerging markets where the traditional trade dominates. Sumit Saran, director of food marketing consulting firm SS Associates, and Hendry Sim, director of leading fruit importer Laris Manis Utama, will share their insights from India and Indonesia respectively.

Asia’s next boom in citrus also comes into focus in the third workshop session. John Carter, director of global sales for leading US-based shipper Limoneira, will be on hand to discuss the latest trends and developments in Asia’s lemon market, as well as the changing global supply dynamics for citrus.

Convenience stores and juice bars are everywhere in Asia and on-the-go sales are massive. A parallel workshop focuses on how fresh produce suppliers can capitalise on Asia’s convenience craze. Jasper Ong of Singapore-based start-up Easy Fruits discusses his company’s journey to supply fresh-cut fruits to 7-Eleven convenience stores, and its mission to expand their reach into a range of other channels.

High-quality networking

Around 400 high-level industry professionals from more than 30 different countries are expected to attend Asiafruit Congress, providing first-rate networking opportunities for delegates.

Asiafruit Congress also hosts the presentation of the Asia Fruit Awards, the only pan-Asia awards for Asia’s fresh produce business, which are presented before the Networking Lunch.

As well as getting high-quality information and business contacts, Asiafruit Congress delegates receive a three-day access pass to Asia Fruit Logistica, including the Welcome Reception on the evening of 4 September. The conference serves as the perfect primer to Asia Fruit Logistica, helping delegates to work out who and what to focus on at the trade show, which runs from 5-7 September.