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China's Registered Fruit Exporters: Who, What and Where Are They?

August 14, 2018

We at Produce Report were interested to note that China Customs recently published a list of approved Chinese orchards and packers registered for exporting fresh fruit. Particularly, we were interested to see what insights this list might yield into the state of China's fruit exports. This is especially relevant because China's fruit exports dipped in 2017 amidst broad challenges in the domestic industry.

According to China Customs statistics, China exported 3.61 million tons of fresh fruits in 2017, down 1.8% YOY. The total value of fresh fruit exports in 2017 was $5.34 billion—down 2.9% YOY. The average price per ton of exported fruit was US$ 1,478.62, which was down $17.8 per ton, or 1.2%, YOY.

Substantial drops in two of China's major crops, apples and citrus, were not offset by slight rises in exports of table grapes, pears, pomelos, peaches, mangoes and bananas. Despite the fall in apple exports, China remained the world's largest apple exporting country.

The recently published list of registered export packers and orchards contained 1,209 packers and 3,078 orchards, spanning all of China's provincial-level administrative divisions. From the perspective of orchards, getting on this list involves overcoming some significant bureaucratic hurdles. Requirements for a Chinese orchard to apply successfully to become a registered exporter include having more than 6.6 hectares (that's 100 Chinese mu) of contiguous plantation; integrated quality and pest management systems; employee training schemes; and a record of no outbreaks of harmful organisms within the past two years.

And, of course, most important, the fruit that the orchard is registering to export must be approved to be imported from China by the country the orchard is applying to export to.

Overall, of the 3,078 registered orchards, 1,092, or 35.4% were dedicated to apples. This was followed by pears at 531 (17.2%) and citrus at 518 (16.8%). The fourth largest number of orchards were for table grapes, with 230, or 7.4% of the total. There are also more than 100 registered export orchards for strawberries and lychee. The number of export orchards roughly correlates with China Customs data on overall exports of each type of fruit. According to customs data, the top four types of fruit exported by China are apples, citrus, pears and table grapes.

The largest number of registered orchards were located in Shandong, with 571 orchards. This was followed by Shaanxi (453), Yunnan (310), Fujian (258) and Liaoning (247). Shandong's primary exports are apples and pears; those of Shaanxi are apples; Yunnan's are citrus, table grapes and apples; Fujian's are citrus and tropical fruits; and Liaoning's are apples and strawberries. Other provinces with more than 100 registered export orchards included Gansu, Shanxi, Hebei, Xinjiang and Guangdong.

Perhaps owing to its geographical proximity to the export markets of Southeast Asia, Yunnan is China's top fresh fruit exporting province, with exports in 2017 of $1.61 billion, 33% of China's total.

Important factors holding back China's fruit exports are a lack of packing facilities and insufficient technology for post-harvest and packing. Of course, there are 1,209 registered packers on the list, but most are very low-tech and simple facilities. Currently in China, less than 1% of fresh fruits undergo a full modern postharvest and packing process such as washing, waxing, grading. China also lags behind in post-harvest management and cold chain. Another problem facing the industry in China is the low quality and lack of new varieties: nearly all fruit grown in China is traded as a commodity item after harvest.

Image: Pixabay

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