The Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently published a report analyzing the Chinese nectarine market. On March 4, 2020, China granted access to the US fresh nectarines from selected regions of California, specifically Fresno, Tulare, Kern, Kings, and Madera counties. The US season runs from mid-summer to mid-fall, which partially overlaps with China's stone fruit production season, which goes from May to October and peaks between July and August.
China started importing fresh peaches and nectarines since 2016. Since then, the imported volume of these fruits has soared from 433 tons in 2016 to almost 27,000 tons in 2019. Most of this fruit comes from the southern hemisphere, specifically from Chile and Australia, as their supply is available in China's counter season and most imports occur between November and April.
China approved the entry of Chilean nectarines in 2016. Since then, the Asian country has become the second-largest market for this Chilean stone fruit, where it sends approximately 21% of all its nectarine exports. Chilean nectarines are typically harvested from November to March. The main varieties exported to China are the Bright Pearl, Giant Pearl, Arctic Snow, Magique, and Venus varieties. In 2019, Chile accounted for 75% of China's nectarine imports.
Even though Australian exports to China are much lower than Chilean exports in terms of volume, China accounted for roughly 53% of all Australian peach and nectarine exports in 2019. Australia's nectarine season typically begins in January and lasts for about two months.
According to the report, the success of Chilean nectarines in China can be largely attributed to the Chile-China Free Trade Agreement, under which Chilean fresh fruits can be imported into China with zero tariffs. On January 1, 2019, tariffs were also removed for the vast majority of Australian fruit exports to China, including peaches and nectarines.
In this sense, the USDA report highlights that, in addition to having strong competition from the southern hemisphere and China's local production, the US stone fruit also has to pay high retaliatory tariff rates. While Chinese importers can apply for an exemption from the 25% Section 301 retaliatory tariff since March 2020, US nectarines are not among the products listed as eligible for tariff exclusions.
You can read the full report at the following link.