Small portions of ready-to-eat fruit products have become very popular in various Chinese retail markets in the last few years. There is a growing variety of these products and the sales volume expands every year. Shanghai Jiexiang Sweet Food Science and Technology Co., Ltd. is a producer specialized in fresh-cut fruit products. Their clients include well-known fresh produce retailers such as Dole and Pagoda. Mr. Wang Genzu, spokesperson for the company, recently shared his insights into current market conditions and future developments.
Mr. Wang first talked about several major problems that companies in the Chinese fruit industry face. "Fruit from high-end production areas gradually found its way into the Chinese market in the last few years. The import volume grows larger every year. China is also a large producer and exporter of fruit, but mainly focuses on large volumes of low-priced fruit. Some people outside the industry think this is the result of a lack of product variety and a lack of suitable plantation technology. But I think the root of this problem is outdated post-harvest processing technology in production areas.
"Cherry packaging factories in Chile often invest millions in post-harvest procedures to properly prepare the cherries for the market. And avocados, for example, require pre-cooling immediately after the harvest. Imported avocados from South America are pre-cooled and therefore have a long shelf life, but Chinese avocado farmers skip this step, and that is why Chinese avocadoes are only fresh for 7-10 days," said Mr. Wang.
"The lack of post-harvest processing not only reduces the added value of fruit products, but also causes much loss due to spoiled fruit. In short, the profit margin shrinks. I think that the orchard is only one segment of the supply chain, and not the entire picture. If fruit products are properly treated after the harvest, then their economic value is much higher than if the post-harvest procedures are omitted. I subscribe to the notion that good fruit in the field is not necessarily good fruit. Only good fruit in the customer's hand is good fruit."
"Small portions of fresh-cut fruit, such as fruit cups, have gained much popularity in overseas markets in the last few years. These products can be found in nearly every large supermarket. However, in China this is only an emerging trend, but one that is swiftly gaining popularity. I think that this type of fresh-cut fruit product has great potential in the Chinese market," said Mr. Wang.
"First, the daily pace of life is growing faster, especially in large cities, and people do not have the time to prepare their own fruit. This is particularly true for large, complicated fruits such as jackfruit, durian, and pineapple. Second, larger fruits can not be eaten in one go, and sometimes the remaining fruit spoils before it can be eaten. Consumers have to throw away part of the fruit and are therefore less likely to buy large fruits. Small portions of fresh-cut fruit solve this problem. Third, as the living standards rise, many consumers pay more attention to convenience. Small portions of fruit can easily be taken into cinemas, playgrounds, and other leisure centers, unlike whole fruits."
In addition to the benefits for consumers, fresh-cut fruit also facilitates efficiency in the supply chain. "Take jackfruit as an example, almost all the offline sales of jackfruit consist of small portions of fresh-cut jackfruit. Whole jackfruits only account for 3%-5% of the overall sales volume. The traditional supply chain of fresh-cut jackfruit consisted of several segments. Wholesalers purchased the fruit in plantations and transported the fruit to the wholesale market where retailers purchased them and then sent the purchased jackfruit to processing factories. From the factories, the fresh-cut jackfruit was transported to the retail market. This supply chain has now changed," explained Mr. Wang.
"Our processing factories directly purchase from production areas, and then supply the fresh-cut jackfruit to wholesale markets and retail markets. We cut one segment out of the supply chain, which reduces waste, lowers the cost price, and guarantees fresher fruit for our customers."
Mr. Wang also shared his predictions for future trends in the industry: "Post-harvest processing will go through significant developments in the next three years. Processing will become the heart of the supply chain. The separate segments of the supply chain (orchard, factory, retail market) will become more closely integrated, and processing factories play an important role in this development. They will become both 'production and processing centers' as well as 'marketing cooperation centers'. More and more systems will place processing at the retail end of the supply chain, so that suppliers can quickly and efficiently respond to consumer demand. This will also avoid the situation where processing factories in production areas only work during the peak period of the harvest season, and close down for the rest of the year. Those 'production and processing centers' that require proximity to the production area may utilize mobile equipment to improve the rate of efficiency."
Jiexiang Sweet Food prepared for this development with the establishment of their Jiexiang Fruit Research Center.
"The Jiexiang Fruit Research Center relies on Jiaxing Wholesale Fruit Market and works closely together with the Jiexiang fruit processing factory. Together they develop innovative technology for the fruit supply chain and raise the value of the fresh-cut fruit industry in China."
When asked about the advantages of the research center, Mr. Wang replied: "We selected a site close to the first-grade wholesale fruit market to gain an accurate understanding of the key problems in the production and retail of various fruit varieties. That is how we are able to tailor our research solutions to relevant problems in the market. In addition to the advantages of this location, we also installed the most advanced equipment to carry out large-scale tests on specific fruits, so that we can produce reliable data."
When asked about this data, Mr. Wang added, "a growing number of companies realizes the importance of post-harvest processing, and they have begun to pre-cool their fruit products, and install specialized packaging equipment. Although they have the relevant hardware, they are often unable to obtain the relevant software and data within a short period of time. They do not know the required wind speed or time it takes to pre-cool avocadoes, bayberries, and other fruits that easily spoil. Or they are unaware of the specific gas composition required for the packaging of certain fruits, or what size microporous membrane to use. We can carry out experiments on large volumes of a specific fruit and quickly produce relevant, reliable data for a wide variety of fruits with various requirements. We provide customized solutions."
Jiexiang fresh-cut fruit takes the lead in wholesale markets across the country. The company is also the only one in possession of two fruit processing factories that produce large volumes of fresh-cut fruit.
Jiexiang Sweet Food has a wide assortment of fruit products, including whole fruit, fresh-cut fruit, quick-frozen fruit flesh, quick-frozen fruit jams, as well as fresh fruit drinks. The company expanded the scale of operations, and is now looking for strategic partners in core production areas with abundant natural resources.
"We will participate in the Shanghai International Fruit Expo between the 12th and 14th of August. Our company stand can be found in hall E4 at booth G3-4. We sincerely hope to take advantage of this opportunity to connect with suppliers from major fruit production areas across the globe, so that we can enrich the supply chain and add to the value of fruit products."
For more information:
Mr. Wang Genzu - CEO
Shanghai Jiexiang Sweet Food Science and Technology Co., Ltd.
Tel.: +86 18606112777
Shanghai International Fruit Expo