Chinese retail keen on promoting South African apples

South Africa's deciduous fruit industry body is this year running its first campaign promoting its apples in China, as it has for many years done in Europe.

“We've only just started with the campaign which will run until August, and we're seeing big interest and enthusiasm from large importers and retailers like Joy Wing Mau and Pagoda,” says Jacques du Preez, manager of trade and markets at Hortgro.

“Since it's our first year of running a promotional campaign in China – and hopefully starting this month our campaign in India will also get off the ground – we're taking it slowly, but the plan is for it to become a medium to longterm investment, and to become an annual campaign.”

The average value per kilogram that South African apples obtain in China is 15% below its global average. An important goal of these annual campaigns will therefore be to put South African apples on a more equal footing in the Chinese market with apples from other Southern Hemisphere suppliers, Jacques notes.

For the current season, most of the activities will be focused on online and offline promotions with retailers which have put forth specific plans for positioning the product and which consumer groups to target. In future promotional activities may also be extended to key fruit wholesale markets.

The campaign has a generic focus regarding varieties but evidently the cultivars popular in China like Fuji and Royal Gala/Gala constitute 99% of the apples. Fuji apples are well-known to Chinese consumers from its domestic production and not regarded as a premium product.

A premium cultivar whose colour and taste profile are well-suited to Chinese consumers is the new South African apple Bigbucks, which is marketed as Flash Gala.

According to Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, an estimated 200 tonnes of the apple will be exported to China this year, which marks a significant increase since last year.

Alas, South African pears cannot take advantage of the campaign as there is still no access for them to the Chinese market; Covid and the consequent international travel restrictions brought the almost-completed process to a halt. When South African pears gain market access, the fruit will be included in a wider topfruit promotion.

Hortgro is planning a similar campaign for South African apples in Nigeria.

For more information:
Jacques du Preez
Tel: +27 21 870 2900

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