"Milky" strawberries reflect Chinese organic produce popularity

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"Milky" strawberries reflect Chinese organic produce popularity

China's increasingly health-conscious consumers have shown their growing appetite for organic and unique foods, with sales skyrocketing for strawberries irrigated in recycled milk. Milky strawberries China

The fruit dubbed the "milky" strawberry fetches a 40% higher price than its lactose-free counterpart, with a smaller size and a sweet aroma.

Beijing fruit vendor Yu Li said the fruit tended to be U.S. and Japanese varieties that were harvested local, packed and sold in one pound plastic boxes.

"On a good day, we would sell more than 200 boxes in just half a day," Li said.

Some vendors claim that "milky" strawberries are irrigated by recycled milk and thus are of milky flavor, possessing higher nutrition values.

However, Zhifen Cao, the sales manager of the Riverbank strawberry farm in Pinggu - a suburban area near Beijing - told www.freshfruitportal.com the selling point was ultimately the organic concept.

"We do irrigate the fields with recycled milk, but saying those strawberries taste like milk is just a hype," Cao said.

"The reason why they are much more expensive and customers keep coming back for them, lies in the fact that they are organic strawberries. You won’t taste pesticide residue in them. That’s the essence of our marketing strategy."

While "milky" strawberries might be an aggressive marketing scheme to capitalize on a stronger demand for healthy food, this trend towards a lifestyle of health and organic is inspiring more farms to enter the organic market.

"We had no idea what 'organic' meant a few years ago, nor did our customers. But now more people are aware of organic products and willing to spend extra on them," Cao said.

In China, only agencies authorized by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People's Republic of China (CNCA) are permitted to certify organic products. So far, 19 agencies in China are authorized by the CNCA.

Terry Yu, founder of organic food market Lohao City and member of OFDC (Organic Food Development Center), expects organic food to be a mainstream trend over the next three to five years in China.

Not everyone is as optimistic as Yu. In an article from the investment banking division of Zero2IPO Group, author Jessie Shao points out that despite the market potential, "China's organic food market is unlikely to make great progress in the next few years due to the constraint of its consumption level".


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