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Chinese Importers Enthusiastic About South African Pears After Inaugural Season

January 19, 2023

Fresh pears from South Africa appear to be off to a strong start in the China market, with Chinese companies that imported them during their first year of availability reporting that the fruit was of high quality and feedback from traders and consumers has been positive. The companies have expressed optimism about the potential of South African pears in China and plan to increase their imports in 2023.

South African pome fruit stakeholders worked for many years to gain market access to China for pears. The final go-ahead from Chinese customs authorities came at the very end of 2021. By the time suppliers and exporters had made the appropriate preparations, however, they ended up with a substantially truncated export season to China in 2022. The first pear shipment departed South Africa in August and arrived in Guangzhou on Sept. 15.

Despite this late start, South African exporters ended up sending 12 shipments of pears containing 32,366 boxes (just over 400 metric tons) through week 49, according to statistics from Hortgro Pome, which represents South African apple and pear growers and promotes the fruits in China and other markets. Approximately 83% of the pears exported to China last year were of the Forelle variety, while the remainder were of the Packham’s Triumph variety.

The inaugural shipment of fresh South African pears to China was imported by Qinguo Fruit, which partnered with Hortgro Pome to hold a container-opening ceremony at Guangzhou’s Jiangnonghui Fruit Wholesale Market. Qinguo reported that the pears sold out quickly and feedback from traders at the market was positive.

Another of the earliest importers of South African pears was China’s largest fruit retailer, Pagoda, which imported a trial container and then sold the pears at wholesale. The person in charge reported brisk sales and good feedback from buyers.

Shanghai Shengguo also imported South African Forelle pears for trial sale last year. The company’s head of international procurement said that the fruit was mainly sold in retail channels in Beijing, Dalian and other cities and that the market response to the variety was excellent.

Packham’s Triumph is a sweet and juicy pear with a green skin that turns yellow when the fruit ripens. Forelle, meanwhile, is a late-ripening variety with a sweet, crisp flesh. It is green with a red blush and distinctive lenticels. Some traders believe that Forelle (which also comes in a non-blush variant of the same cultivar called Vermont Beauty) is the South African pear that best matches China’s market requirements and consumer preferences. South African growers have in recent years been increasing their plantings of non-Forelle blush varieties such as Rosemarie, Cheeky and Celina that may also be suitable for the Chinese market.

According to the procurement manager at Shanghai Shengguo, South African pears have better quality and a longer supply window than those from South America. He said that from a consumer perspective, the crisp texture, sweet flavor, attractive coloration and competitive pricing compared with other mid- to high-end fruits are the key selling points for South African pears. Shanghai Shengguo plans to continue to import a higher volume of pears from South Africa this year if sufficient supply is available.

Image: Hortgro

This article was based on a Chinese article. Read the original article.

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