The new Chinese pomelo season is pretty challenging, says Xian Huang of Yex, a Dutch wholesaler. Not least because of the current logistics situation. "Expensive sea freight is hitting China's pomelo exports hard," he says.
"Rising tariffs are raising prices from China/East Asia to Europe. That currently costs $13,000-14,000/40ft container. That's eight to nine times more than a year ago. There are few empty containers too. And, there’s limited space available in the ships compared to last season."
Potential hold-ups are also delaying pomelo arrivals by two to three weeks. "On top of that, factories are currently being closed in parts of China. That's due to new COVID-19 outbreaks. That will only lead to further delays for EU importers. Only a small volume of pomelos has arrived in the past two weeks. That's forcing the postponement of supermarket programs. How will the shipping situation develop in the fourth quarter? That's hard to predict at this stage."
China's pomelo production is fairly stable this week. White pomelo production should be 10-15% lower. But, there is expected to be 20-30% more of the red/pink-fleshed variety. These pink pomelos taste sweeter than their white-fleshed counterparts. "They’re very popular on the domestic market. The Chinese still consume about 95% of their pomelos. They only export about five percent."
Yex received its first pomelos two weeks ago. And Xian says sales are going as planned. "We should get our Discovered branded pomelos next week. This season, we're importing both white and red/pink pomelos. These are for our programs and daily sales."
When asked for a prediction, the importer says that if sea freight is priced the same or higher in Q4, consumption could be lower than in previous years. As might demand be. "Also, the supply season might be shorter. That's if you consider the high costs and the late season's quality," Xian concludes.