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Fruit Day Boosts South African Apple and Pear Popularity in China

June 29, 2023

With the continuous strong demand from Chinese consumers, export volumes of South African pome fruit to China have been increasing consistently over the years. In mid-June, South African apple and pear industry association Hortgro Pome and Fruit Day, a pioneer of the new retail model in China’s fresh produce sector, jointly organized a special tasting campaign for parents and their kids. This interesting event not only raised the curtain on the 2023 South African apple and pear sales season in China but also marked the third year of collaboration between Hortgro and Fruit Day.

The event was attended by Tsipa Phuti Joyce, Consul General of South Africa in Shanghai; Vuyo Lingwati, Vice-Consul (Political) at the South African Consulate General in Shanghai; Rirhandzu Mahlale, Consul (Economic) at the South African Consulate General in Shanghai; Huang Jing, vice president and head of fruit supply chain at Fruit Day; Gao Zhenji, general manager at City Shop; and Wen Zhenhua, vice president at Fruit Day and City Shop. Jacques du Preez, general manager for trade and markets at Hortgro Pome, sent special remarks through a video message.

According to data from Hortgro Pome, exports of South African apples have grown more than 13-fold over the past five years. As of week 21 of 2023, South African apple exports to mainland China were up by 27% compared with the previous season. When considering the 4,130 metric tons of fresh apples exported to Hong Kong, this season’s export volume of South African apples to China has already surpassed 12,800 metric tons. In addition to the impressive performance of South African apples on the Chinese market, the country’s pears are also demonstrating significant potential. During the period covered by the statistics, a total of approximately 15,100 cartons or 1,890 metric tons of South African pears arrived in China.

South African apples and pears are favored on both the Chinese and other international markets owing to their unwavering quality, exceptional taste and strong supply. The distinctive climatic and geographical conditions in South Africa contribute to the remarkable appearance, texture and flavor of the country’s apples. Through improvements in cultivation techniques, ongoing research and development of new varieties, and the implementation of global cold chain and packaging technologies, an expanding assortment of South African apples and pears, encompassing diverse cultivars, has successfully reached the tastebuds of Chinese consumers.

During the 2023 marketing season, South African apples and pears are abundantly available, providing an expanded selection of varieties that are being transported to China. Among them, Fuji and Royal Gala/Gala continue to be the primary apple varieties shipped to the Chinese market. Royal Gala apples, distinguished by their wine-red skin, vibrant color and high sweetness, align well with the preferences of Chinese consumers. On the other hand, Fuji apples, although smaller in size, serve as an ideal snack for children or a daily nutritious choice for health-conscious families.

South African pears made their inaugural entry into China in September of last year, making this year their first complete marketing season in the country. Forelle pears, acclaimed as one of the most prominently exported pear varieties both to China and globally, feature a vibrant green skin tinged with a touch of red, a sweet flavor and a crisp texture.

At the tasting event, an assortment of fresh South African apples and pears took the spotlight. Additionally, a selection of innovative dishes incorporating apples and pears as key ingredients were introduced. Examples included the combination of Fuji apples with sweet potato pancakes, as well as offerings of lemon cakes and tiramisu crafted with luscious Forelle pears.

South African apples made their debut in China in 2015, and Fruit Day were one of the retailers at that time. Over the years, Fruit Day has continuously supported the development of South African apples and pears on the Chinese market.

Joyce expressed her immense excitement at the surging popularity of South African fruits on the Chinese market, adding that she considers that this remarkable accomplishment owes much to the steadfast support of Fruit Day. She also reported looking forward to the continued collaboration between the two parties, utilizing fresh fruits as a catalyst to forge a stronger relationship, promote South African culinary culture, and make meaningful contributions to the prosperity and advancement of Sino-African trade.

When discussing the success of South African apples and pears in China, du Preez remarked that the enthusiastic interest and positive feedback from Chinese fruit traders have instilled a strong sense of confidence in Hortgro’s products. He also expressed the firm belief that the Chinese market holds vast potential and eagerly anticipates further strengthening their partnership with Fruit Day. This collaboration aims to introduce more Chinese consumers to the exceptional quality of South African apples and pears, allowing them to discover and appreciate their superior attributes.

On the Fruit Day side, Huang also spoke enthusiastically of the collaboration: “We feel incredibly honored to have brought in the inaugural shipment of South African apples to China in 2015 and to have actively participated in this year’s complete exporting season of South African pears. During my discussions with our South African partners regarding quality standards, one thing left a deep impression on me. They consistently referred to it as ‘Chinese grade’ instead of the usual ‘premium grade.’ This highlights our South African partners’ profound understanding of the quality requirements on the Chinese market and their significant regard for it. It is precisely this dedication that contributes to the growing popularity of South African apples and pears in China.”

This year’s harvest season for South African apples is reportedly reaching its conclusion, with June set to be the peak month for apple exports. Meanwhile, pear exports are expected to continue until November. At present, Chinese consumers can find South African apples and pears both online on the Fruit Day app and offline at high-end supermarket chain City Shop, with exclusive promotions available through both channels.

Images: Fruit Day and City Shop

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


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