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Jaffa Orri Unable to Meet Increasing Demand in China

May 16, 2017

Today, Jaffa has become an icon for high-quality citrus fruit from Israel which have once served as a favorite snack for dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth I. 

Jaffa Orri mandarins have become a rising star under the Jaffa brand name since its market debut in the early 2000s, quickly taking the Israeli market by storm and gaining increasing recognition in the international arena. The variety has replaced Jaffa grapefruit as Israel’s top citrus product in terms of export volume.

Despite accelerated orchards planting efforts including licensing growers in Spain, South Africa, South America and the US, consumers simply couldn’t get enough, and supply kept falling short of demand.

The good news is that consumers in China have not missed the chance to have a bite this season. Israel’s Plant Production and Marketing Board, an association established to promote the Jaffa brand, identified the Chinese market as a major focal point in 2017.

As the end of this season grows nearer for the heavily desired Jaffa Orri mandarin which lasts from January to April in the Northern Hemisphere, Produce Report, to form a panoramic view of how the later crowned “mandarin king” has done in China, interviewed the fruit’s importer, retailer and distributor in China.

Andy Wang, the General Manger of Shanghai Riverstone Fruits Co Ltd, takes pride in being the first company to introduce the Jaffa mandarin into China roughly five years ago. “In addition to Jaffa Sweetie, Jaffa Orri is another national fruit for Israelis. The excellent taste of the mandarin left a deep impression on me and I decided to import it into China five years ago. ” Andy said.

Even though Israeli citrus was not allowed to enter China for three years, when the doors reopened, the company didn’t hesitate to carry on the import. “Our company has ordered 40 containers of the mandarin for this season. The variety’s globally short supply made it only possible for 20 containers to reach China even though Orri producers had tried their best to increase the production. The first batch of the fruit arrived on 27th Feb after a shipment of around 30 days. Jaffa Orri’s good sales performance in China in early season this year has lured many Chinese importers to scramble for products in Israel directly.” he remarked.

Peter Zhu, the General Manger of Commodity Center, Pagoda, the largest independent fresh produce chain in the world, also confirmed Jaffa Orri’s popularity in China. As he said, Jaffa Orri is the main mandarin import of Pagoda for this season. The Orri mandarin, standing out in flavor, is a perfect match for Pagoda which always puts taste first. In a visit to a Pagoda outlet in March, Produce Report found Jaffa Orri mandarins on display in prominent position in the store. “It also has an advantage in price when compared with imported mandarins from Spain. Our target was 27 containers for this season, but only 24 containers are available due to a limited supply.” Peter said. 

George Liu, the CEO of Frutacloud, a start-up that provides integrated supply chains for high-quality fruit to all types of customers, told Produce Report. “It is the first year for Frutacloud to deal the fruit. We distributed the mandarin to HEMA Fresh. As far as I know, Orri has retained a lot of repeat customers in HEMA offline stores due to its high quality.” HEMA Fresh, an equally new O2O fresh produce retailer, boasts merging the online ordering convenience and offline shopping experience for consumers.

Produce Report also found on HEMA’s App that, a clamshell of 4 pieces of Jaffa Orri mandarins and a small consumer package of 2.3 kg (around 20 pieces) had been priced at 25.8 yuan (U.S.3.7$) and 99 yuan (U.S.14.3$) respectively. To make more online consumers realize the mandarin is worth its price, HEMA Fresh has done a lot of work to introduce Jaffa Orri with emphasis on its flavor and quality.

China imported 21,000 tons of mandarin, in 2015/16 season even though the nation is the biggest producer of citrus worldwide. While Jaffa Orri is conquering one after another picky Chinese consumer, maybe its producers shall look for more ways to boost the production.

Image sources: MZMC



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