Nowadays it is very normal for Taiwanese consumers to find seedless green grapes in the supermarkets of Carrefour Taiwan, though a decade before, it was far less common. Most of the time only seeded grapes were available, nowadays it is the other way around. This shift in supply did not happen spontaneously, but was down to the detailed work of the fresh fruit importer of Carrefour Taiwan. When you are responsible for the imported fruits of Carrefour Taiwan, it is very important to stay up to date about all the new fruit varieties, to really understand your customers preferences and to be bold enough to introduce new varieties in store and create new trends. Penny Chang is aware of all of this and is currently in charge of the import section for Carrefour Taiwan. She knows how the grape market in Taiwan has evolved and what trends are popular nowadays in the fresh fruit market of Taiwan.
“Nowadays seedless grapes are more popular than seeded grapes at retailer channels and I believe that the popularity of seedless grapes is a trend all over Taiwan markets. This change started about seven to ten years ago, when customers started to develop their preference for seedless grapes. During this development, customers also started to develop a preference for a certain color of grape. Five to seven years ago, there was a clear divide regarding the color of the grapes. Black seedless grapes were a best seller and wholesalers thus also refused to import the green/white variant, because the black one was so popular. However, in the last couple of years the green/white seedless grape is winning back market share. The customers at Carrefour Taiwan now prefer the green/white variant, because the varieties of green/white seedless grapes are mostly bigger in size and higher in sugar levels.” Explained Penny Chang.
“Our green/white seedless grapes are mostly coming from California. Taiwan has always had good relationships with the USA regarding politics and economics. US fruits account for 30-40 percent of the total imported fruits both in volume and value at Carrefour Taiwan. During summer, there are also green/white seedless grapes available from Korea and Japan, but the volume is much smaller than the US ones.
Even though grapes are a fragile product and not very easy to transport, we are able to ship these fruits to Taiwan. For example, the right way of packaging can have a huge impact on the freshness of a product during transportation. With the proper temperature control and packaging protection, such as Styrofoam outer cartons used for grapes during transportation instead of cardboard or plastic cartons, this can really contribute a lot to maintaining the freshness of grapes. Because of the highly advanced technologies of agricultural products nowadays, we are able to import more fresh fruits to Taiwan.”
Another trend is the demand for organic products in Taiwan, as Penny Chang comments. "However, that is not only true of Taiwan, it is more a global trend. Fresh produce with full traceability is also a trend. The awareness of food safety among Taiwan’s customers is significantly rising. It’s one of Carrefour’s strategies focusing on providing more organics and fresh products with full traceability.”