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Year overview March 2017

China was back in the spotlight in March after PMA held its fifth Fresh Connections: China in Shanghai.

The three day programme started of with a series of business round table meetings followed a series of lectures on the global and Chinese fresh produce industry and affiliated branches. The conference on Thursday was open to a local Chinese audience, and was well attended by a mixture of Chinese trade companies, importers, logistics providers, retailers and e-commerce businesses. As always, Freshplaza was there with cameras at the ready, to make a photo report of the event.

Many European countries continue to see China as a market with great opportunity. Poland, who started shipping apples to China in 2017 after finalising a trade agreement, presented their apples at the Polish embassy in Beijing back in March. However, maybe they should tread carefully after a report that highlighted instability in the Chinese apple market.

Trade wasn't simple for either side as trade barriers hit Chinese pear exports to Europe and the US in 2016. Where pear exports from China were slowing down, demand for Chinese grown sweet potatoes was gaining popularity overseas.

Perhaps as a response to the increased global trade, Chinese company Shenzhen Farmer Brother Agricultural Science and Technology Co. Ltd., announced that they had developed an internet marketing platform
"With the rapid development of the market economy, traditional hard cash methods of trading agricultural products are becoming outdated. In order to fully meet the needs of buyers and suppliers, we use an exclusive video technology and internet technology to build the visualization and traceability of high-quality agricultural products on our information platform. Meanwhile, we use mobile Internet tools to bring together a large number of high-quality agricultural products through the platform of live video, backtracking and other technologies, to establish a sound system for agricultural products, and to build trust with our new, face-to-face, innovative trading model," said Mr. Yang, from the Shenzhen Farmer Brother Agricultural Science and Technology Co. Ltd.

Mixed bag for grapes in March
The East Coast in the US reported that it was experiencing a challenging grape season, with the market being stuck in a gridlock from which it was unable to extricate itself. Cold storage facilities up and down the Delaware River remain filled to near capacity, with a heavy inventory of table grapes of varying age and condition and an assortment of stone fruit and pears.

While the Indian grape harvest was at its peak in Nashik, the large volume of Indian grapes also depressed prices in Europe.

Specialty grape varieties were faring better, with demand for the Cotton Candy and Sweet Sapphire grapes being described as 'phenomenal' by Vince Natale from Superfruits.

Demand and opportunities for Avocados
The avocado market in March was marked by high prices, both at origin and destination, as the volumes started to fall, with traders highlighting that the situation wasn't expected to improve 'any time soon'. The first avocados from Peru and South Africa were delayed due to weather conditions which had slowed ripening.

The Kenyan avocado season was also running around a month behind, due to the drought conditions, along with fighting some bad press they had about exports to Europe.

Australian avocados were also in the news after the Sunshine Coast-based Subtropical Fruit Farm Consultancy Services (SFFCS) was given the license to develop and manage the Intellectual Property of the UC 3-29-5, trademarked Gem Avocado® in Australia.

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