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Fruitnet Media managing director Chris White opens Fruitnet Live: China

China’s import growth will continue to be a major fillip to the global fresh fruit trade during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and beyond.

That was the key take-home message from the opening session of Fruitnet Live: China, Fruitnet’s half-day global digital conference on the future potential of the fresh fruit and vegetable market in China.

After its first quarter of negative growth in decades, China’s economy is starting to show sign of recovery. The opening session examined the new shape of China’s fresh produce market and projections for market growth through to 2025.

Wayne Prowse, principal and senior analyst at Fresh Intelligence Consulting, said that should China’s fresh fruit imports grow at a “conservative projection rate” of 9.5 per cent per annum, they will reach 9.3m tonnes by 2025. That’s up from 5.9m tonnes in 2019 – an extra 3.4m tonnes – reflecting almost 60 per cent growth over five years.

Even if the annual growth rate slows to 7.5 per cent post-pandemic, China’s imports will still increase to more than 9m tonnes by 2025 (9.048m tonnes), an extra 3m tonnes compared to 2019.

Tropical fruits sourced from neighbouring Asian nations – such as bananas from the Philippines, durian from Thailand, and dragon fruit from Vietnam – continue to dominate China’s import market, making up 75 per cent of total imports.

However, Prowse said there are still opportunities for temperate fruits that come from outside Asia, such as citrus, table grapes and stonefruitfrom Southern Hemisphere countries.

More key insights fromFruitnet Live: China will be published on Fruitnet over the coming days. A full round-up of the event will appear in the upcoming July-August edition of Asiafruit.