After several years of negotiations, Mexico completed its first direct shipments of berries to the Chinese market over the weekend with more cases set to arrive in Shanghai regularly throughout the week.
Shanghai Oheng Import & Export Co. vice manager Jenny Fang told www.freshfruitportal.com the first 48-box shipment was from berry multinational Driscoll’s and arrived on the night of Jan. 23, with lab tests conducted by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine’s (AQSIQ) Shanghai branch.
Fang said another Driscoll’s blackberry shipment arrived on Jan. 24, along with a blackberry shipment from Naturipe.
“The two shipments on Saturday only had to be inspected on sight and they were readily released,” she said.
SVA Fruits received the first lot of Naturipe-branded Mexican blackberries, with 45 boxes in the shipment.
“Each pallet has 240 cartons, and each carton has 12 clamshells weighing 125 grams (4.4 ounces) each,” said SVA’s operations manager David Smith, whose organization is a joint venture between Chilean companies San Clemente and Hortifrut – the latter is one of Naturipe’s grower-owners.
He said promotions and events were planned, including a formal press conference later this week which will take place in either Beijing or Shanghai.
“We look forward to not only developing the market for our blackberries, but for all of our berry category in whatever way we can,” Smith said.
“We offer a total berry solution that serves customers worldwide providing fresh, ready to eat, frozen, juiced, and all sorts of other berry products. In the long run, this is an important part of our market strategy. Blackberries are an important step to being able to provide excellent quality berries to Chinese consumers 365 days out of the year.
He said Chinese consumers had shown they were quite happy to consume all fruits of all colors, with sales of crops like very dark purple plums that appear nearly black, black seedless grapes and mulberries.
“What I would really like to see is Chinese consumers incorporating fresh berries into their daily life. Once they learn of the health benefits and learn how delicious our berries are, I’m sure they’ll be coming back for more,” Smith said.
In an interview last year, Driscoll’s president Kevin Murphy told www.freshfruitportal.com the company had started growing berries in the Chinese province of Yunnan a few years ago.
“It’s very small right now so initially we will rely on the imports but we are hoping that in three or four years the volume will go up so we can service the market,” he said, adding the project also included blueberries and strawberries, which are two berry items next in line in Mexican-Chinese access negotiations.
“We are going to be growing very quickly but we are starting slow because we need to put the system in place with food safety and quality standards because when we see a clamshell in the marketplace we want consumers to feel confident no matter where it comes from – Mexico, Chile or China…we can’t have varying standards.
“We are bringing fruits from Mexico and maybe in the future from the U.S. and Australia, trying to do these four berries all year around in different size packages.”