The first batch of Chilean blueberries arrived in China a few weeks ago. The current season has started better than the previous one in terms of price and quality. Giddings Fruit China is the branch company of Giddings Fruit, one of the major importers of South American fruits in China. Mr. Gonzalo Matamala, the new director of Giddings Fruit Asia & China, introduced us to the status of the current blueberry season and shared his opinion about the Chinese market.
“This season has had a very good start.” Gonzalo told us, “With pandemic concerns, the Chilean blueberry industry implemented stricter measurements; product quality is well controlled from farm to table. The products that reached China are generally of superior and stable quality. On top of that, in the past few weeks, a number of vessels have been delayed due to bad weather, which gives space for the market to digest the product volume in a consumptive and natural way. Instead of intensive buying in large volumes, the market first started slowly and the sales picked up gradually and steadily.”
For the current season, Giddings Fruit has a goal of exporting 800.000 tons of blueberries to Asia and China. In particular, the company predicts it will have a 10% growth in China. Gonzalo believes business growth will not come at the cost of product quality. “With the fast-growing speed, many South American blueberry suppliers see the opportunity and start export to China. To stand out from the increasingly severe market competition, we need to strengthen our specialties and deliver the products that can meet the Chinese customer’s preferences.”
With 3 years of experience in China, Giddings Fruit discovered that local customers have preferences for tasty, bigger sized and crunchy blueberries. To cater to the local citizens’ appetite, the company is in close contact with blueberry cultivators from Australia, the USA and Europe to obtain state-of-art genetics in the berry category. Aside from that, in order to optimize planting conditions, the company is carrying out an ongoing R&D program where fruits from different orchards in different locations, with different growth factors are tested.”
“China is a premium market with a high international standing. Local consumers are aware of reputable global brands and have great interests in knowing their production standards, environmental sustainability and the latest genetics. High levels of brix and good firmness are the specialties of Chilean blueberries. These characteristics are recognized by local consumers, people with satisfying experiences often repeat their purchases in local supermarkets/fruit shops. Providing reliable products to create consumer loyalty is one of our missions in this market.” Gonzalo said.
When talking about the company’s future plans in China, Gonzalo told us, “We noticed that fruit shops and retail chains used to purchase fruits from traditional wholesale markets, but nowadays they are open to working directly with exporters and growers. Therefore, we are now exploring the opportunities in the retail sectors, and expanding our networks, not only in 1st and 2nd tier cities, but also in 3rd and 4th tier cities.”
Though China’s demand for imported blueberries is huge, meanwhile, we still need to be aware of what is happening in the local growing sector. Increased plantation areas in Dandong, Qingdao and Yunnan province lead to a prolonged domestic berry season, which shrinks the import window for imported fruits from the southern hemisphere, particularly in the period of February until August. To have our place in the market, we need to seize the Chilean window of blueberry export to China, reinforcing the consistency on the arrival of the fruits.
Giddings Fruit China was established in Shanghai in 2017. Aside from blueberries, the company also exports large volumes of a variety of South American berries, cherries, and sugar plums to China each year. “We believe that being a trustworthy company with reliable products should be the key to excelling in the industry.” Gonzalo concluded.