Consumers in China can finally enjoy fresh blueberries from the United States. The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) teamed up with Pagoda, a fruit retailer in China, to hold a ceremony celebrating the arrival of fresh U.S. blueberries to mainland China, the first-ever promotion of USA fresh blueberries in China. The ceremony featured Lindsay Malecha, deputy director of the Guangzhou, China office of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Trade Office (ATO).
To gain access to China, the U.S. government and the USHBC worked with China’s customs authorities to develop export phytosanitary protocols for fresh blueberries, a process which took years. The breakthrough came in May of 2020 when fresh U.S. blueberries received final approval for import into China from the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC).
Third from left is Lindsay Malecha, Deputy Director of the Guangzhou, China office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Trade Office (ATO).
“I’m honored to join the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Pagoda and consumers to celebrate this promotion of USA blueberries to China,” said Malecha of USDA ATO Guangzhou. “It highlights the work between our countries that benefits U.S. blueberry farmers and makes it possible for distinguishing Chinese consumers across China to enjoy U.S. blueberries.”
"Opening the Chinese market was a major milestone last year and we are excited to celebrate the arrival of USA fresh blueberries in China,” said Alicia Adler, vice-president for global business development at USHBC. “I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the growers exporting to China this year, and express gratitude to the importers and retailers in China for their commitment to growing blueberry demand."
The blueberries in Pagoda's three-pallet inaugural shipment were grown by Norris Farms in the Umpqua River Valley in Oregon and sent by air freight. They were supplied by Superfresh Growers of Washington State.
“The microclimate in the Umpqua River Valley yields delicious, large, high-quality blueberries over a long season,” said Jeff Webb, director of international business development at Superfresh Growers. “We are delighted our program is supplied by a family farm with a multi-generational legacy spanning nearly 50 years.”
With more than 4,700 stores across China, Pagoda is well-suited to marketing this inaugural shipment of U.S. fresh blueberries to China. The berries will be sold in a limited number of Pagoda stores in the Pearl River and Yangtze River deltas as a premium grade product due to the size and sweetness level.
"Thank you to the Agricultural Trade Office of the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council and other partners for cooperating with Pagoda,” said Zhang Wangbo, general manager of Pagoda Group's Commodity Center. “Pagoda is honored to promote fresh American blueberries to Chinese consumers. We will leverage Pagoda’s brand and sales channels to promote these blueberries so that more Chinese consumers can understand and taste USA blueberries.”