(Oct. 11) Imports and exports of apples are expected to grow in China during the next two years, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Unfortunately for fruit producers outside of China, China’s fruit exports are rising faster than its imports.
After years of encouraging greater planting area and production, Chinese government researchers are helping China’s growers increase their use of packing and storage technology to extend fruit availability, the FAS report said. That is helping both domestic and export marketing, the FAS noted.
Chinese apple production in 2002 is expected to be down from last season’s mark of 21 million metric tons. In contrast, 2002 U.S. apple production is about 4.18 million metric tons.
Most of China’s apple production is concentrated in the provinces of Shandong and Shaanxi, with red fuji dominating volume in both areas.
According to government sources quoted in the report, China has banned 17 pesticides on fruit production because of pesticide toxicity concerns. Some growers have responded to the loss of production tools by bagging fruit to improve fruit quality and food safety. The practice, imported from Japan some years ago, is becoming widespread in China.
The bags, either paper or plastic, are put on the fruit when it is very small and is removed a few weeks before harvest.
China’s export volume dwarfs import shipments, government statistics show.
From July 2001 through June, Chinese customs reported nearly 50,000 metric tons of apple imports and 360,000 metric tons of apple exports.
China’s pear imports totaled 660 metric tons, while the country’s exports of pears topped 190,000 metric tons.
Imports of fresh apples in China grew from 34,856 metric tons in 2000-01 to 49,880 metric tons in 2001-02.
In comparison, the demand for imported pears is relatively light and has shown no recent spikes, at about 650 metric tons for both 2000-01 and 2001-02. Apple imports are expected to grow with rising consumer incomes, particularly in urban areas.
MORE DIRECT SHIPMENTS
The FAS reports that China is receiving more direct shipments of apple imports, with less traffic being shipped indirectly by way of Hong Kong into south China.
That trend has led to a decrease in shipments for Hong Kong and a corresponding rise in Chinese shipments.
U.S. exports of fresh fruit to China and Hong Kong together from January to June 2002 totaled $73 million, down 3.68% from the previous year.
China’s growth as an apple exporter has been dramatic. The FAS report stated China’s exports of fresh apples increased 128% from 281,851 metric tons in 2000-01 to 360,052 metric tons in 2001-02. China’s apple exports in 2002-03 should grow further still, reflecting advances in the country’s apple production and storage facilities.
Pear exports from China grew to 193,903 metric tons in 2001-02, an increase of 116% from 2000-01.
Southeast Asia and Russia count as the largest markets for China’s apples and pears. According to an industry source quoted in the FAS report, China’s apple prices are about 41% below the world market price, while the price of ya variety pears is about 79% lower than the world market price.
More export growth is likely with new markets.
The FAS reported that China is seeking to resolve phytosanitary issues and eventually establish two-way fruit trade with the Southern Hemisphere countries and the U.S.