Kingsburg pluot

Sales of California pluots look set to gain fresh impetus in Hong Kong and China this year as leading supplier Kingsburg launches promotions under its Dinosaur brand.

With its strong position in the US domestic market, the industry-leading innovator in stonefruit varieties takes a selective approach to export markets, with Taiwan representing the focal point of its attentions to date.

“Taiwan is our main export market and Taiwanese people love our white-flesh peaches and white-flesh nectarines,” said Dan Spain, vice-president of sales and marketing at Kingburg.

Pluots, a complex plum-apricot hybrid, are marketed by Kingsburg under its Dinosaur Eggs brand. The product has already developed a strong following in Taiwan, according to Mr Spain, and now the company plans to emulate that success in Hong Kong and China.

While pluots are already marketed in China, the Dinosaur brand has not been promoted there to date and Mr Spain believes that branding the product will help to drive success. Chinese customers will be pleasantly surprised by the sweet flavour of the pluot and the graphics of the brand, he predicted, and the company is distributing matching marketing materials to help win over customers.

Kingsburg is working with selected local importers to market the Dinosaur brand in Hong Kong and China. Prestige China Development, one of the companies appointed to handle marketing in Hong Kong and China, will initially focus on sales through wholesale markets, according to the company’s Rutger van Wulfen. Once awareness of the product and brand has been established among wholesale trade buyers, the focus will shift to supermarkets, and to educating end-consumers, Mr van Wulfen said.

Farming more than 6,000 acres (2,428ha) and harvesting over 200 varieties of fresh fruit including white-flesh peaches and nectarines, pluots, Asian pears and apriums, Kingsburg is a leading player in California’s stonefruit industry, which is hoping for a lift in fortunes this season.

“2010 has been a tough year. After the overproduction in 2008, which turned out to be the biggest stonefruit crop in Californian history, volumes were down in 2009,” Mr Spain said. “Fortunately, 2010 saw a small rebound in the entire valley, but the economy was still weak and growers struggled. We also had quite cold weather this winter and that resulted in small fruit.”