Fruit growers and traders will be the first to feel the heat from China’s entry into world markets - and should be seriously concerned about the effect it will have on their businesses, according to a leading expert on China’s food industry.
John Chapple, from consultancy Sino Analytica, said top fruit in particular would be the subject of price pressure once China’s 220 million farmers began to gear up for greater export activity.
“If China produces any sort of surplus this rapidly leads to a glut. This has already been witnessed with garlic to the US, broccoli to Japan and will be witnessed in the near future in the apple and pear industry.
“In my experience a Chinese Fuji apple competes well on the market for taste and keeping quality and vast quantities can be produced.”
Although in general they are currently badly organised, growers in China collectively produce anywhere between 400 and 800 million tonnes of fruit and vegetables a year.
Export growth is hampered by a virtually non-existent supply chain. But this would change as chains such as Metro, Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco entered the country and forced through a radical modernisation of its logistical networks.
Chapple also predicted shipments of fresh flowers from China would be made to Europe in the near future, with more vegetables to follow.
UK companies that export fruit and vegetables to Japan, Hong Kong and East Asia would also see their sales replaced by Chinese companies, he said.
Chris Walkland