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Mostly regional trade; only modest trade in EU

China produces half of worldwide vegetables and 30% of fruit

China is not only the most populated country in the world but when it comes to production of fresh vegetables and fruit China is the worlds number 1! Of the estimated (commercial) production of fresh vegetables in the world, China produces half. Of all the fruits, China produces 30%. From this enormous amount, only a small portion is exported. Of 484 million tonnes of vegetables produced in 2012, only 4.4 million tonnes was exported. That's less than one percent. Of the 220 million tonnes of fruit produced in 2012 only a mere 3 million tonnes were exported abroad. Despite these figures China remains high on the list of exporters. With fresh vegetables China's export value is in fourth place and with fresh fruit export they are in 7th.

Fourth fresh vegetable exporter and sixth for fresh fruit
The production of both fresh fruit and vegetables in recent years has steadily increased. Exports have grown very slowly but since 2009 there was more capital (dollars!) creating stronger growth. The increasingly expensive Yuan is another important part of the equation. The exchange rate of the Yuan compared to the Dollar and the Euro over the last 5 years has multiplied by 10.

Regional trade; only modest trade in EU (and The Netherlands)
Chinese export of fresh vegetables and fresh fruit is largely focused on countries in close proximity. Indonesia is the main buyer followed by (in 2012) Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Russia, Hong Kong, the Philippines and South Korea. The United States comes in 10th behind Kazakhstan and Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates. The Netherlands was the 14th recipient of Chinese fresh fruit & vegetables with, according to Chinese export statistics, an export value of more than $100 million dollars. The CBS in 2012 recorded exports of fresh fruit & vegetables from China with a value of around 70 million Euros. The list of recipients of fresh fruit & vegetable from China is enormous, but other EU countries, except The Netherlands are not listed very high. According to the Chinese export statistics conducted in 2012, England was worth 25 million dollars, Germany 12 million dollars and Spain and France, 2 million dollars each. According to Eurostat in 2012 there was 159 million Euros of fruit & vegetables exported from China.

Lots of garlic and apples exported
Garlic is their most important export product. For all EU countries garlic is the main product imported from China but the 45,000 tonnes that went to EU in 2012, is nothing compared to the 400,000 exported to Indonesia. In The Netherlands, garlic is the second import product following grapefruit imported from China. Chinese garlic export has otherwise not changed over recent years. Apples are China's second most important export product. Russia is the major importer of Chinese apples. After Russia, China's apples go to other countries in the region and hardly into Europe.

Soft citrus is the third export product and onions are fourth on the list. Over recent years, China has exported around 600 to 70,000 tonnes yearly. This peaked in 2011 with 719,000 tonnes when there was a large demand for Chinese onions from Russia; more than 100,000 tonnes. Japan and Vietnam are normally the largest importers of Chinese onions. In the first half of this year there was a great demand from South Korea. Also Chinese onions mostly stay in the region. Other big Chinese export products are: carrots, pears, cabbage, tomato, kohlrabi, grapefruit, oranges, grapes and broccoli. It is quite surprising that The Netherlands is the largest importer of Chinese grapefruits. In 2012 there was a total of 124,000 tonnes grapefruits exported of which 44,000 tonnes went to The Netherlands. The remainder went to Russia.

Strong import growth from Southern Hemisphere countries Chile, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa, Australia and Thailand are the main suppliers to China when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables. Products are mainly specific regional products such as durian, longan and mangosteen. The most eye catching is the rise of Chilean products on the Chinese market. Last year 572 million dollars worth of fresh fruit and vegetables were imported from Chile. In the first half of this year imports rose by 8%. There are a lot of sweet cherries, grapes, plums, apples and kiwi's imported. Vietnam also export dragon fruit. The Philippines is the supplier of bananas. Incidentally, during the first half of this year (according to Chinese import statistics) a third fewer bananas were imported to China.

The United States are also a major supplier of fresh fruit & vegetables to China. In 2012 they had an import value of 317 million dollars. In the first half of this year imports fell drastically; quantity -21% and value -16%. Grapes, oranges, and sweet cherries are the major import products, then there are apples, plums and lemons. 

After the top 5 there was a gap and in 2012 New Zealand came six on the list. This is pretty much due to kiwi's. Then follows Peru (mostly only grapes) and South Africa (grapes and oranges). Overall, bananas are the most important import product followed by dragon fruit, water melon, longan, durian, grapes and mangosteen.

For more info:
Fruit & Vegetable Facts
Jan Kees Boon
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