“The protocol has been approved and the first shipments will be made in the 2019 campaign from July,” said Joaquin Gómez, president of the Association of Producers-Exporters of Fruits, Table Grapes and Other Agricultural Products (APOEXPA).
In the inaugural season around 2,000-3,000 metric tons (MT) of grapes will likely be shipped to the new market, which is a very small proportion of national volume.
“We have to be careful and modest at the start, while the trade relations are established,” he said, adding the industry is planning to arrive in the market with a large range of premium varieties to see which are preferred by Chinese consumers.
“I think that the market is going to be oriented to exclusive varieties. Varieties like those from SunWorld, from Itum, IFG, but as there is such a huge multitude of varieties right now I couldn’t say which will work best,” he said.
“We want this to be a success, because it’s a window of opportunity. But we think that it’s going to be a slow process, for very exclusive premium varieties, but hopefully it grows in the future.”
Gomez said the industry would target a market niche, such as people with high purchasing power and similar tendencies to European consumers.
Spain will likely compete heavily with the U.S. in the second half of the year.
Another challenge for Spain is the logistics, given the distance to the market and the fact that the fruit will be shipped during the summer.
Gomez said that the journey from Spain to China will take 30 days. Under the export protocol the fruit must be subject to at least 15 days at between 0-1ºC.
National volume is expected to rise to 160,000-170,000 metric tons (MT) this year, thanks to new planted areas, and new varieties coming online.