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Chinese officials destroy Philippine banana shipment

As tensions continue over the South China Sea ruling, yet another Philippine banana shipment has been intercepted on pest risk grounds.

Qingdao News reported Shandong officials destroyed 21 metric tons (MT) of the fruit, which had a value of US$ 21,683.

bananas dumped - Qingdao news

Photo: Qingdao News

The story reported the fruit was put into landfill because the gray pineapple mealybug Dysmicoccus neobrevipes was found in the consignment of 1,556 boxes.

It is the same pest reported in interceptions of Philippine bananas that took place in March.

While the official reason behind the destruction of fruit is pest threats, these types of SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) announcements often coincide with international disputes.

Amid a territorial conflict over the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, China placed restrictions on Philippine bananas alleging mealybug detections.

Last year the Philippines shipped 686,904 metric tons (MT) of bananas to China, accounting for 64% of total imports. However, this represents an 11% reduction year-on-year while the second-largest supplier Ecuador raised its shipments by 22% to reach 283,006MT.

Other suppliers include Myanmar (55,683MT), Thailand (26,115MT) and Vietnam (10,133MT).

Eduardo Ledesma of the Ecuadorian Banana Exporters Association (AEBE) told www.freshfruitportal.com the problem between China and the Philippines could generate more demand for Ecuadorian fruit.

“Hopefully that happens as it would help strengthen Ecuadorian bananas, and in the end it would generate more investments and jobs in Ecuador,” he said.

“This year we’ve fallen by more than half in China, mainly because prices from the Philippines are cheaper and the distance for them is much shorte. We also have some domestic problems – we have to be more agile. We must have procedures and processes that are less cumbersome.

China-Philippines conflict flows over to social media

Philippine mango growers have also suffered from the conflict, with some Chinese fruit traders refusing to stock the country’s dried mango products amid calls for a boycott.

Also on social media, Chinese netizens have slammed a Japanese YouTuber for a video (which you can see below) eating 137 Philippine bananas, in what some saw as a reference to China’s population of 1.37 billion people, Mingpao reported.

“During this sensitive period, you eat 137 bananas from the Philippines to insult China – do you have brains? Do you think us Chinese people can be easily bullied?” one comment said.

Headline photo: www.shutterstock.com

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NZ: Zespri responds to Chinese trade war speculation

New Zealand kiwifruit exporter Zespri says sales are on track to making China its number one market this year, after the government recently downplayed the likelihood of a trade war with the Asian giant.

The issue stems from reports of an application from Pacific Steel under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules calling for an investigation into alleged steel dumping from China in the New Zealand market. Zespri Shanghai 13

The local press has reported China’s Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Trade Policy (Mofcom) warned Zespri and other companies about possible retaliation against New Zealand primary industries including kiwifruit, wool and dairy.

Mofcom has denied the claims, and both New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Todd McClay have urged the public not to get carried away with the hypothetical scenario of a Chinese reaction to a WTO dispute.

“Neither in Beijing nor in Wellington is there any indication from the Chinese authorities that there is an issue that would see them have retaliatory action, so the official line from the Chinese, and we accept that, is there is nothing to see here,” Key was quoted as saying on new site Stuff.co.nz.

“Market economies don’t do that with each other. WTO [World Trade Organisation] rules don’t allow it,” McClay was quoted as saying in newspaper the Otago Daily Times when asked about the possibility of retaliatory action from China.

In a statement, a Zespri spokesperson said the issue was being dealt with at a government-to-government level, and the company had full confidence in both governments on the issue.

“Two weeks ago, Zespri local staff in China received unsubstantiated information from an industry body in China on purported industry consultations related to the import of New Zealand agricultural products,” the spokesperson said.

“We passed on this information by email in line with our regular engagement with New Zealand Embassy officials in China through the normal course of business.

“Outside of this single communication, Zespri has no further information on this matter and reports that Zespri was called in for a meeting in Beijing or was in some way pressured by the Chinese government are false.”

The spokesperson highlighted Zespri’s business in China benefited from a “deep and mature relationship” between the two nations across both government and business.

“We are heartened to hear Minister McClay’s assurances today,” the spokersperson said in an email on Tuesday.

“Our 2016 selling season continues as normal and we’re on track to grow our China business by one-third this season, making it our number-one market with sales to reach around NZ$ 500 million. Zespri has no further comment to make on this matter.”

Photo: www.shutterstock.com

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Chinese vendor throws Philippine mangoes “in the trash”

China’s opposition to an international tribunal ruling over the South China Sea has spilled over into the fruit industry, with some traders deciding to do away with Philippine fruit. Dried mangoes

Earlier this week in a case brought by the Philippines, the Hague ruled China did not have a historical right to its existing claims on the sea, where it has been constructing artificial islands on top of reefs.

Neighboring and Western countries have called on China to respect the Hague’s decision, but the government has insisted it rejects the arbitration tribunal’s ruling.

One response from the Chinese public has been to call for a boycott of Philippine fruit on social media, singling out dried mangoes in particular.

A search on e-commerce site Taobao shows some Philippine dried mangoes are being sold, but a large portion of individual traders using the site have withdrawn Philippine products, including dried mangoes and dried banana slices.

“I am just a small seller on Taobao, but firstly I am a Chinese. I want to do everything to support our country,” one vendor told www.freshfruitportal.com.

“We will not sell the Philippine dried mangos any more – several tons of our inventories have been thrown into the trash can.

“I welcome patriotic people to keep watch. If you feel sorry for me, please buy some of my other products.”

The vendor said he was now turning to Chinese production such as dried mangoes from the provinces of Fujian or Hainan.

“If there is a war between China and the Philippines I will donate all of our income from this product to our country,” he said.

In 2012, there was a similar boycott on Philippine bananas relating to a dispute over the Scarborough Shoal, as well as a temporary ban from the government that officially related to phytosanitary concerns.

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Chinese Lawmakers Mull Tougher Penalties for Breaking Food Safety Laws

The bi-monthly legislative session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, being held Monday through Saturday in Beijing, is considering a draft revision to China’s food safety laws that would include detention for offenders.

Anyone who adds inedible substances to foods could go to jail for up to 15 days, states the submitted bill language. Current law mandates fines and certificate revocation for such violations, so “administrative detention” (imposed by police without court proceedings) is considered a tough penalty in China.

Those suspected of committing more serious offenses would be subject to China’s criminal law. Lawmakers had argued in August that the current food safety law is not clear about what action should be considered a criminal offense.

The draft bill also adds punishments for adding expired material or additives to products. A high-profile event occurred back in July when Shanghai Husi Food Co., which supplied McDonald’s and KFC, was found to be using reprocessed expired meat in its products. Six of the company’s senior executives were subsequently arrested.

The fine for producers would be 10 to 20 times the total product value if worth more than 10,000 yuan ($ 1,600). For products worth less than that, the fine would be 50,000 to 100,000 yuan (approximately $ 8,000 to $ 16,000). Production certificates would be revoked for serious offenses.

The latest version of the bill also allows for the prosecution of anyone who leases out production sites and allows illegal activities on their property, but it exempts distributors from punishment if they can show they followed procedure and were unaware of suppliers’ practices.

The bill would also require producers to label products that contain any genetically modified ingredients. A member of the committee noted that the public needs more specific labeling information since general awareness of the issue is not as high as it could be.

“Labeling does not mean that genetically modified foods are unsafe, but the public might not see it that way,” said Xu Weigang.

Food Safety News

Chinese Lawmakers Mull Tougher Penalties for Breaking Food Safety Laws

The bi-monthly legislative session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, being held Monday through Saturday in Beijing, is considering a draft revision to China’s food safety laws that would include detention for offenders.

Anyone who adds inedible substances to foods could go to jail for up to 15 days, states the submitted bill language. Current law mandates fines and certificate revocation for such violations, so “administrative detention” (imposed by police without court proceedings) is considered a tough penalty in China.

Those suspected of committing more serious offenses would be subject to China’s criminal law. Lawmakers had argued in August that the current food safety law is not clear about what action should be considered a criminal offense.

The draft bill also adds punishments for adding expired material or additives to products. A high-profile event occurred back in July when Shanghai Husi Food Co., which supplied McDonald’s and KFC, was found to be using reprocessed expired meat in its products. Six of the company’s senior executives were subsequently arrested.

The fine for producers would be 10 to 20 times the total product value if worth more than 10,000 yuan ($ 1,600). For products worth less than that, the fine would be 50,000 to 100,000 yuan (approximately $ 8,000 to $ 16,000). Production certificates would be revoked for serious offenses.

The latest version of the bill also allows for the prosecution of anyone who leases out production sites and allows illegal activities on their property, but it exempts distributors from punishment if they can show they followed procedure and were unaware of suppliers’ practices.

The bill would also require producers to label products that contain any genetically modified ingredients. A member of the committee noted that the public needs more specific labeling information since general awareness of the issue is not as high as it could be.

“Labeling does not mean that genetically modified foods are unsafe, but the public might not see it that way,” said Xu Weigang.

Food Safety News

Spending Bill Bans ‘Chinese Chicken’ From Federal Meal Programs

A provision included in the $ 1.1-trillion spending bill Congress passed last week and which is now headed to the president’s desk prevents poultry processed in China from being used in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program (Section 736 of Division A).

Four Chinese poultry-processing plants have been approved to export cooked chicken to the U.S. as long as the chicken was raised and slaughtered in the U.S., Canada or Chile.

The ban on including such products in federal meal programs was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and cosponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME). Both are members of the House Appropriations Committee and added the amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 agriculture appropriations bill last spring.

Congressional leaders included the provision in the omnibus spending bill that funds the federal government through Sept. 30, 2015, the end of FY 2015.

“Banning Chinese chicken from school meals is a common-sense step to protect our kids,” DeLauro said in a statement. “China’s food safety record is atrocious, yet last year USDA deemed poultry processed in China to be as safe as poultry processed here. Children are among the most susceptible to foodborne illness. We cannot take unnecessary risks with their health.”

Nancy Huehnergarth told Food Safety News that she and Bettina Siegel, co-sponsors of a Change.org petition to keep poultry processed in China off U.S. plates, were relieved to see the provision carry over into the omnibus bill.

“We’re really happy,” Huehnergarth said. “It’s exactly what we were hoping for.”

In garnering nearly 329,000 signatures, the petition showed strong grassroots support for the ban. The team plans to declare victory once the president signs the bill, which he has indicated he plans to do.

China, on the other hand, is not so pleased because of provisions in the U.S. bill that “discriminate against Chinese companies, violate the principles of fair trade and send the wrong signal,” International Business Times reported. In addition to the poultry ban, the bill also restricts purchase of IT systems produced in China.

“China urges U.S. to take effective measures to correct the erroneous practice and create a favorable environment for the healthy development of Sino-US economic and trade relations,” stated Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Sun Jiwen.

Food Safety News

Chinese Demand for Dairy Products Spurs U.S. Exports

What happens when 1.36 billion people in China migrate toward cities, draw middle-class wages and shift toward “Western” foods such as ice cream, cheese pizza and strawberry-flavored milk? One result: larger profits for U.S. dairy processors, who, like dairy exporters in other countries, are charging record prices for their products at home and abroad, according to Bloomberg News.

China’s growing thirst for milk helped push American dairy exports to a record $ 6.7 billion in 2013, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). January U.S. dairy exports were 35 percent higher than a year earlier, putting the month’s exports ahead of the staggering 30-percent annual growth Bloomberg News reported in 2013.

According to the 2014 Tetra Pak Dairy Index, China is just one plane of opportunity. The $ 3.69 price tag on the average gallon of whole milk sold in April 2014 is 7.5 percent more than just a year before, the highest since September 2011. In just three years, when Tetra Pak’s research predicts global dairy demand will overtake production, prices could be even loftier — especially in China, the world’s top dairy importer.

This does not mean all is rosy with U.S. dairy exports; sales to China declined 24 percent during August. However, year-to-date (January-August) exports by volume for 2014 are still 21-percent greater than last year, prices remain high, and there are still reasons to retain a positive long view.

Demand for Dairy Products Grows in China

What’s behind this trend and how can U.S. processors benefit? Milk and cheese are relatively new to the Chinese diet, says Todd Shilk, dairy category manager at Tetra Pak U.S. and Canada, but consumers’ taste for them is growing. A wave of Western culture has swept into the country, bringing with it dairy-based foods. Baskin-Robbins and Pizza Hut have ambitious Chinese expansion plans; drinking milk is increasingly viewed as healthy — especially for kids — and has caught on with an increasingly affluent middle class.

Tetra Pak research shows that most liquid milk consumed in China (76 percent) is ultra-high temperature (UHT) treated, which holds advantages over traditional pasteurization. When pasteurized traditionally, dairy products are heated and then packaged. This milk must be continuously refrigerated and still has a brief shelf life (5-15 days).

UHT dairy products are briefly heated to high temperatures, then filled into aseptic, shelf-stable cartons, lasting up to a year without refrigeration or preservatives. Traditionally, most milk exports to Asia have been powder; over the past 15 years, however, UHT milk exports have grown steadily and should continue to climb by 3.1 percent CAGR from 2013 to 2016, according to the Dairy Index.

UHT milk suits China’s transport infrastructure, which cannot support quick delivery of chilled dairy. And Chinese consumption of UHT milk jumped from 18 million pounds in 2010 to about 331 million pounds in 2013. The USDEC suggests this could quadruple again to 1.3 billion pounds by 2020. UHT milk also empowers use of renewable packaging materials and offers lighter weight and independence from refrigeration. This type of packaging delivers benefits throughout the supply chain.

Ross Christieson, USDEC senior vice president of market research and analysis, says that rapid growth in China’s shelf-stable milk market is a gold mine for U.S. dairy exporters.

“The U.S. industry produces large volumes of UHT-treated milk annually, yet we have played only a minor role in serving booming Chinese consumption,” he says. “Chinese buyers have expressed growing interest in U.S. supply to meet spiraling demand.”

The U.S. Dairy Products Market is Mature

Meanwhile, in the U.S., fluid milk consumption continues a decades-long slide. Bright spots include value-added innovations such as flavored, organic and nutraceutical products. Last year, American milk sales were the lowest since 1984; culprits include fewer people eating breakfast at home (when more than half of fluid milk in the U.S. is consumed). Fewer than 50 percent of adults now drink milk, and whole-milk consumption is half what it was 30 years ago.

U.S. dairy producers should still focus on opportunities in their homeland. Dairy innovation could likely abate the slide in consumption here. As novel milk flavors grabbed Chinese consumers and pushed sales up in that country, similar innovations could work magic in the U.S.

The Tetra Pak Dairy Index shows that the globe is dotted with areas of opportunity, especially in developing areas. U.S. export sales to Mexico, for example, increased 18 percent in August. Most U.S. producers, however, are targeting China, where exports were up 21 percent in the first half of 2014 compared with a year ago and prices are high.

Expansion in Chinese dairy production can’t keep up with demand, Shilk says, adding dairy production there will likely continue lagging for years to come. Eventually, entrepreneurial dairy farmers could close the gap, but, he adds, “in the meantime, the opportunity is there to sell a lot of milk.”

Producers entering the market now can get a jump on building brand loyalty and creating long-term sales opportunities. As U.S. retailers (such as Walmart and Costco) and European counterparts (Tesco, ALDI and Carrefour among them) enter China, they offer a natural path to market for their partner dairies, Shilk says.

Tetra Pak Insights on Chinese Milk Consumption

• Milk isn’t a cultural norm: Nearly all Chinese have some level of lactose intolerance or lactase deficiency, making lactose-free products a must — especially for the kids’ market.

• Consumption tends toward single serve: Most milk in China is consumed in single-serve portion packs, Shilk says. Consumers finish packs in one sitting, so storage isn’t necessary.

• UHT milk is 76 percent of the market: Refrigeration remains relatively uncommon in the country; shelf-safe UHT-processed milk is the norm. Seventy percent of chilled milk is home-delivered or sold in specialty shops.

• China is the world’s largest flavored milk market: Chinese consumers are on track to consume 4.13 million liters in 2014, according to a Tetra Pak report commissioned from Compass Products and Packages. Flavored milk is considered an area of competitive advantage for the U.S. (the top flavored milk consumer) over New Zealand (the top dairy exporter) to China, the report says.

Food Safety News

Chinese Demand for Dairy Products Spurs U.S. Exports

What happens when 1.36 billion people in China migrate toward cities, draw middle-class wages and shift toward “Western” foods such as ice cream, cheese pizza and strawberry-flavored milk? One result: larger profits for U.S. dairy processors, who, like dairy exporters in other countries, are charging record prices for their products at home and abroad, according to Bloomberg News.

China’s growing thirst for milk helped push American dairy exports to a record $ 6.7 billion in 2013, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). January U.S. dairy exports were 35 percent higher than a year earlier, putting the month’s exports ahead of the staggering 30-percent annual growth Bloomberg News reported in 2013.

According to the 2014 Tetra Pak Dairy Index, China is just one plane of opportunity. The $ 3.69 price tag on the average gallon of whole milk sold in April 2014 is 7.5 percent more than just a year before, the highest since September 2011. In just three years, when Tetra Pak’s research predicts global dairy demand will overtake production, prices could be even loftier — especially in China, the world’s top dairy importer.

This does not mean all is rosy with U.S. dairy exports; sales to China declined 24 percent during August. However, year-to-date (January-August) exports by volume for 2014 are still 21-percent greater than last year, prices remain high, and there are still reasons to retain a positive long view.

Demand for Dairy Products Grows in China

What’s behind this trend and how can U.S. processors benefit? Milk and cheese are relatively new to the Chinese diet, says Todd Shilk, dairy category manager at Tetra Pak U.S. and Canada, but consumers’ taste for them is growing. A wave of Western culture has swept into the country, bringing with it dairy-based foods. Baskin-Robbins and Pizza Hut have ambitious Chinese expansion plans; drinking milk is increasingly viewed as healthy — especially for kids — and has caught on with an increasingly affluent middle class.

Tetra Pak research shows that most liquid milk consumed in China (76 percent) is ultra-high temperature (UHT) treated, which holds advantages over traditional pasteurization. When pasteurized traditionally, dairy products are heated and then packaged. This milk must be continuously refrigerated and still has a brief shelf life (5-15 days).

UHT dairy products are briefly heated to high temperatures, then filled into aseptic, shelf-stable cartons, lasting up to a year without refrigeration or preservatives. Traditionally, most milk exports to Asia have been powder; over the past 15 years, however, UHT milk exports have grown steadily and should continue to climb by 3.1 percent CAGR from 2013 to 2016, according to the Dairy Index.

UHT milk suits China’s transport infrastructure, which cannot support quick delivery of chilled dairy. And Chinese consumption of UHT milk jumped from 18 million pounds in 2010 to about 331 million pounds in 2013. The USDEC suggests this could quadruple again to 1.3 billion pounds by 2020. UHT milk also empowers use of renewable packaging materials and offers lighter weight and independence from refrigeration. This type of packaging delivers benefits throughout the supply chain.

Ross Christieson, USDEC senior vice president of market research and analysis, says that rapid growth in China’s shelf-stable milk market is a gold mine for U.S. dairy exporters.

“The U.S. industry produces large volumes of UHT-treated milk annually, yet we have played only a minor role in serving booming Chinese consumption,” he says. “Chinese buyers have expressed growing interest in U.S. supply to meet spiraling demand.”

The U.S. Dairy Products Market is Mature

Meanwhile, in the U.S., fluid milk consumption continues a decades-long slide. Bright spots include value-added innovations such as flavored, organic and nutraceutical products. Last year, American milk sales were the lowest since 1984; culprits include fewer people eating breakfast at home (when more than half of fluid milk in the U.S. is consumed). Fewer than 50 percent of adults now drink milk, and whole-milk consumption is half what it was 30 years ago.

U.S. dairy producers should still focus on opportunities in their homeland. Dairy innovation could likely abate the slide in consumption here. As novel milk flavors grabbed Chinese consumers and pushed sales up in that country, similar innovations could work magic in the U.S.

The Tetra Pak Dairy Index shows that the globe is dotted with areas of opportunity, especially in developing areas. U.S. export sales to Mexico, for example, increased 18 percent in August. Most U.S. producers, however, are targeting China, where exports were up 21 percent in the first half of 2014 compared with a year ago and prices are high.

Expansion in Chinese dairy production can’t keep up with demand, Shilk says, adding dairy production there will likely continue lagging for years to come. Eventually, entrepreneurial dairy farmers could close the gap, but, he adds, “in the meantime, the opportunity is there to sell a lot of milk.”

Producers entering the market now can get a jump on building brand loyalty and creating long-term sales opportunities. As U.S. retailers (such as Walmart and Costco) and European counterparts (Tesco, ALDI and Carrefour among them) enter China, they offer a natural path to market for their partner dairies, Shilk says.

Tetra Pak Insights on Chinese Milk Consumption

• Milk isn’t a cultural norm: Nearly all Chinese have some level of lactose intolerance or lactase deficiency, making lactose-free products a must — especially for the kids’ market.

• Consumption tends toward single serve: Most milk in China is consumed in single-serve portion packs, Shilk says. Consumers finish packs in one sitting, so storage isn’t necessary.

• UHT milk is 76 percent of the market: Refrigeration remains relatively uncommon in the country; shelf-safe UHT-processed milk is the norm. Seventy percent of chilled milk is home-delivered or sold in specialty shops.

• China is the world’s largest flavored milk market: Chinese consumers are on track to consume 4.13 million liters in 2014, according to a Tetra Pak report commissioned from Compass Products and Packages. Flavored milk is considered an area of competitive advantage for the U.S. (the top flavored milk consumer) over New Zealand (the top dairy exporter) to China, the report says.

Food Safety News

Chinese consumer willing to pay for top quality

Photo report Huizan wholesale market Shanghai.
Chinese consumer willing to pay for top quality

While on a recent trip to Shanghai, FreshPlaza visited the Huizan Wholesale market, the market was opened two years ago and is only for importers. Kayla from Good Farmer was kind enough to show me around.

Click here for the photo report

Buyers at the market are mainly buyers for secondary markets and will buy goods on a pallet or two at a time. The market has its own cold storage units on site.

On the market there were many familiar European, US and South American brands, there was also fruit from Thailand, Taiwan and Australia to name a few. There was also some produce from China.

Click here for the photo report

What was must noticeable as I walked around was the quality and size of the fruit. The Chinese consumer is picky, according to Kayla, and they are willing to pay for excellent quality fruit. The consumer likes big, sweet fruit.

It is a relatively quiet period on the market due to the change of the seasons, China has a large production of oranges which are in season just now and are starting to arrive, the Chinese prefer their own sweet oranges and at this time of the year there is not much demand for imported ones.

Click here for the photo report

There were cherries and grapes from the US and Chile, and as the seasons progress and Chinese New Year approaches the volumes will increase considerably, Australian cherries will also be arriving soon.

There are many different varieties of apples available, lots of French and US brands as well as the Chinese supply.  

Publication date: 11/25/2014
Author: Nichola Watson
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Peru: Peruvian citrus and avocados will enter the Chinese market in March 2015

Peru: Peruvian citrus and avocados will enter the Chinese market in March 2015

Juan Manuel Benites Ramos, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, said he felt optimistic because the Peruvian fresh citrus and fresh avocados would enter the Chinese market in March 2015.

In this regard, he noted that he was going to travel with Jorge Barrenechea Cabrera, head of the National Service of Agrarian Health (SENASA), to China in order to unlock some health issues.

“We received a Chinese delegation in Peru so they could see our production mechanism and our technological level so that they could be at ease,” he said.

In that regard, he stressed the importance of opening more markets for the country’s agricultural exports, especially now that many new lands have come into production.

“We’re en route to opening new markets; after China, follows Japan, South Korea, and Thailand, amongst others,” he said.

Benites Ramos also stated that another issue that was discussed with China was the possibility of reaching an agreement to develop the Pampas irrigation project (between Ica and Arequipa), which would irrigate 300,000 hectares. This project will require a large investment.

Source: Agraria.pe

Publication date: 11/20/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Chinese garlic crop is largest in four years with lower prices expected

Prices for Chinese garlic have reached historic highs in recent years due to light crops, but this year’s crop is expected to be up in volume by about 35 percent with a corresponding drop in price, according to Jim Provost, managing partner of I Love Produce in West Grove, PA.

For the past three years, prices for Chinese garlic have been “stronger than they have ever been” previously, said Mr. Provost, who had just returned from a three-week visit to China when he spoke with The Produce News in late June.

ILP-Peeled-garlic-grading-aILP Peeled garlic grading after cooling.U.S. Department of Agriculture market reports show that “Chinese prices have been very strong, right up there compared to what California garlic is typically marketed at in a normal year,” he said.

Those strong prices are one reason for this year’s increase in production, he said. As with farmers in many places, when Chinese farmers “see there is money to be made, they plant more.”

In addition to the increased acreage, crop yields are particularly high this year, he said.

“This year was a convergence of not only the amount of acreage planted” but of higher yields as well, “so the combination of the two has led to the biggest crop in four years,” Provost said.

Planting acreage is about 20 percent higher than last year, and yields are up 10-15 percent, according to Provost. The net increase is expected to be in the range of 1 million to 1.5 million metric tons.

It is not a record crop, however, but more of a return to a typical crop, he said.

Provost said he expects to receive the first peeled garlic of the season from China the week of July 8 and the first fresh garlic the week of July 15. He expects I Love Produce to be the first company to have new-crop Chinese garlic available in the United States.

After three years of “relatively tight” supplies with prices “comparable to domestically grown garlic,” this year will be “an entirely different deal, with garlic at least 30 percent cheaper on average,” Provost said. “The quality is excellent and the size is very good, so it is time to promote garlic again. We are offering ads for peeled garlic, bulk garlic and packaged five-bulb netted garlic.”

Currently, there is a glut of last year’s garlic from China on the market, as importers are cleaning up old inventories in anticipation of this year’s larger crop, according to Provost.

“In order to provide our customers the freshest garlic, I made a trip to China in early June to inspect the new crop and settle some purchases with our growers,” he said.

Provost said that in addition to looking at new-crop garlic, he had a couple of other purposes in going to China in early June. One was to attend the Asian Fruit Congress in Qingdao in the Shandong province of China, a coastal city of about 8 million people located about midway between Beijing and Shanghai. At the conference, he said, there were guest speakers who talked about marketing in China, with a focus on second-tier cities such as Quingdao.

In addition, I Love Produce has “a couple of offices in China” through which it exports U.S.-grown fruit into China.

“So I spend more time in China than I used to because … the export side is a larger focus of what we are doing,” Provost said.

China is “an important market for U.S. food products and is now our number one agricultural customer, according to the USDA,” he said.

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