US nectarines face a challenging path to success after gaining access to China, however there are opportunities to be found.

China announced market access for fresh US nectarines as part of the US-China Economic and Trade Agreement on 4 March.

The USDA has now released a report detailing the state of China’s nectarine market, and the challenges and opportunities for US nectarines.

The most significant of these is China’s domestic production, which has been increasing and overlaps with the US nectarine season. However, this has been linked with increased demand.

“Enjoying increasing demand, Chinese producers have increased the planting area of both white and yellow-fleshed varieties,” the report said.

“While domestic white flesh varieties dominate the market because of availability and price, imported yellow flesh varieties are gaining popularity because of their unique colour and consumers’ curiosity towards new varieties.”

China’s nectarine and peach imports have risen substantially in recent years; from just 433 tonnes in 2016 to 26,951 tonnes in 2019. Although almost all of this volume comes counter-seasonal exporters Chile and Australia, which have tariff-free access.

Tariffs provide another hurdle for US nectarine exporters who are faced with a 55 per cent tariff rate but is potential for this to be reduced as Chinese importers are able to apply for a waiver of one 25 per cent tariff.

While US nectarines are not among the approximately 150 products specifically listed as eligible for this exclusion, all imported commodities may apply for a tariff exclusion and the report said several importers have successfully obtained tariff exclusions for some fruit.