Chinese importers cautious ahead of Chile's season - FreshFruitPortal.com

Chinese importers cautious ahead of Chilean summer fruit season amid market uncertainty

With the Covid-19 pandemic having greater impacted the Chinese fruit market this year, importers say they are cautious ahead of the key Chilean summer fruit season amid ongoing uncertainty in the market.

Wenpo Liu, Chairman of Run Fu Yuan Trading Co., Ltd. and Cherry King of Beijing Xin Fa Di Market told FreshFruitPortal.com that his fruit business has suffered heavy losses due to Covid-19.

Speaking of the upcoming Chilean cherry season, Liu said that due to Covid 19, the incomes of many Chinese consumers has declined, and as a result their purchasing power may decrease. Under this circumstance, it is difficult for Chilean cherries to sell at high prices in the Chinese market, and it is highly probable that the sales volume will be lower than in previous years, he said.

According to Liu, China was most hit by the pandemic shortly after the Spring Festival in February this year. Most domestic cherries importers and distributors suffered huge losses. To sell the goods they had to reduce the prices substantially or even dispose of batches of cherries. Liu said that he would be more cautious in the upcoming cherry season, and might reduce the purchase volume by 10% to 20% in comparison with previous years in order to avoid potential high inventories.

Apart from cherries, Liu also sells Chilean mandarins, which the pandemic also greatly impacted. In particular, a while ago the Xinfadi wholesale market in southern Beijing was closed for more than two months due to a new outbreak. The market reopened on Sept. 6, but its overall business performance is far below last year.

Jiangang Han, head of the American fruit purchasing unit of Chen's Sunshine Fruit and Vegetable Trading Co., Ltd., expressed similar views. He said that during the pandemic, the Chinese fruit market "plunged" and the sales were very slow, creating tremendous pressure on the company's inventory and capital turnover.

Fortunately, Chen's Sunshine also manages domestic premium fruits as well as imported fruits, which diversifies certain risks. 

Han pointed out that given this year's special circumstances and extensive variables, it is difficult to predict the market performance over the coming months. Fortunately, as the pandemic is gradually being controlled, China’s economy is slowly recovering and consumers’ purchasing power is slowly improving. Chen’s Sunshine will adjust its fruit procurement at any time subject to the pandemic and other conditions and endeavors to "seek improvement in stability".  

It is worth mentioning that in recent years domestic cherry planting in China has gone full swing. Thanks to the rapid development of greenhouse planting technology, China's local cherry production season is beginning much earlier than before. The first batch will hit the shelves in mid-February after the Spring Festival, which would create an overlap with the Chilean season. 

Liu also believed that the while quantity of Chilean cherries exported to China has increased in recent years, the quality has largely declined over the period. When compared with cherries from Australia, New Zealand and other countries, the quality gap os even more evident, he said, affecting Chinese consumers' perceptions of Chilean cherries.

Han said he hopes that Chilean growers and exporters can work more on fruit quality control, improve the export quality of cherries and other fruits and strictly implement sterilization and personnel control measures to effectively promote fruit exports to China.