Kingo plans Asian expansion for growing Chilean fruit demand
In addition to its base in Taipei, the company also has offices in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Shanghai and Beijing, with its main strengths in grapes, apples and stonefruit. Last year the company moved almost three million cartons of fruit from Chile.
Kingo Chile general manager Carlos Martin Vasquez told www.freshfruitportal.com the company hoped to open an office in the Chinese interior in the short term to make the most of Chilean cherry supply, which while heavily concentrated in volume this last January, was very popular overall.
"It's going crazy with cherries. This last season didn't start that well though because of the high temperatures that were unexpected in the fall; at the start there weren't as many cold hours and people were concerned.
"From what I hear it's the same this year, but this year will be different in the market because Chinese New Year will be in February, there's no rush - last year it was in January and it was under pressure.
"What happened last season was a bad strategy and everyone is to blame - exporters, importers, shipping lines, everyone."
He highlights the preferred varieties grown in Chile for the Chinese market are Regina and Kordia, while Royalty and Stacatto are popular too.
He says fruit overall in Chile should be in better quality and condition this year, and with El Niño the temperatures in October have been colder than they were in 2011 with more heat variation, which may helps induce flowering.
He says this year was very good for Chilean Fuji apples in Taiwan as well with around 450 containers shipped, but there were some problems with wooliness in Galas.
However, in addition to already strong demand for Fuji apples the fruit was assisted by typhoons that impacted on local production in Taiwan, affecting tropical fruits that could have potentially had substitution with apples.
Red Plums too had some problems, particularly the fortune varieties with internal browning and softness issues.
"For the black varieties like Black Amber, Black Cat and Larry Anns, they can hide the problems better, whereas with the red varieties if they go yellow it's much easier to see the effects.
On the other hand, Chilean grapes had a good season in 2011-12 with high temperatures leading to good coloring. The company also sources grapes from Peru, mainly in Ica, but Vasquez claims Chile has an advantage over its neighbor due to the lighter coloring of its red globes
"China is all about pink, but now Piura [northern Peru] mostly has dark colors, RG3. So for the fruit that goes from this zone to China, they have to do a good job in getting what is clearest; some sectors are clearer than others, they are trying to have lighter colors, but the weather doesn’t favor it.
"But in Ica [central Peru], that's where our interest is. There has been a lot of investment there, they have incredible potential and can have two grape harvests a year. Ica is like a northern Chile for me, like Copiapo or Ovalle; but they have same problems with water too."
He adds Peru's grape season is running around two weeks earlier this year.
"Piura starts in October and is at full pace in October and November, and Ica starts end of November and the start of December, and the peak of Ica is January.
"Piura won’t have much fruit for China because of the color but Ica will because it is pink."
Also on the grape front, this year Kingo plans to make the most of a joint venture agreement in place in South Korea.
"There's a changing tendency in Korea. Before it was all red globes or dark grapes, and now people want seedless, mainly Thompson and Crimson.