US fruit growers risk losing Chinese market amid rising trade tension

Tariffs imposed on fresh fruit from the US have challenged the business of that country's growers and exporters, while China's consumers have not been affected because of the small market share of US fruit and a rising number of foreign alternatives, said industry analysts.

Imports of US fruit including cherries and apples have slumped recently due to wholesale price hikes caused by tariffs, two Chinese fruit importers told the Global Times.

A manager at Guangzhou Yogo Import and Export Co based in South China's Guangdong Province said that her clients' demand for US cherries, a summer fruit, has obviously declined in recent months mainly because the price has risen by two-thirds. "The number of containers carrying US cherries has seriously declined," Wu told the Global Times Thursday.

Likewise, Beijing Taihe Chuangye International Trade Co, a major fruit trader in Beijing, stopped importing US cherries after tariffs on them were imposed in China.

Zhao Xinwen, general manager of the Beijing-based fruit trader, told the Global Times Thursday that this summer, his company shifted to buying Canada-grown cherries instead of US ones.

As for another variety of US fruit, the Red Delicious apple, Zhao said there have been no imports this year. Although this is not the fruit's natural season, which usually comes in September and October, it is usually sold year-round in China thanks to refrigeration technology.

"In previous years, a crate of Red Delicious apples weighing about 19 kilograms was sold at less than 400 yuan [$58.6], sometimes less than 300 yuan at the cheapest point. But the current price has soared to 600 yuan in Beijing," Zhao said.

Liu Tong, a veteran statistics analyst at Xinfadi, the capital's largest produce market, told the Global Times in a recent interview that apples imported from the US make up about 2 percent to 3 percent of China's market for the fruit. The majority is held by domestically grown apples.

"Consumers who have a curiosity about foreign things might choose Red Delicious, but they tend to be less price-sensitive," said Liu, adding that this is a small group of shoppers. Most buyers of apples in China won't be affected by the price hike.


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