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Netherlands: Entrance to China central at member meeting committee Fruithandel

About thirty top fruit dealers were together yesterday at the member meeting of the committee fruittrade of Frugi Venta in Enspijk, where the theme 'entrance to new markets' was in a central position. Chairman Jan Timmermans mentioned when opening the meeting the difference to the previous season. "We are changing from "how to get rid of it" to "how to get it." Wout van Es, Kees Oskam and Kees van Ossenbruggen were appointed to the committee as replacements of Michael Aagaard, Gerrit van Leeuwen and Gert Bouman.

Jan Timmermans

After this Frugi Venta director Gert Mulder gave an introduction about the position of Frugi Venta in connection with the planned closing down of the PT and HBAG Fruit and Vegetables. Mulder mentioned that the government is withdrawing more and more. "There is a lot of knowledge at the PT in the area of for instance market research and food safety. We are investigating how to retain this knowledge and therefore hope to present a plan of action as a proposal during the General Member Meeting (ALV)."

Gert Mulder

The Frugi Venta director, however, mentioned - "although I am not really allowed by my chairman to say this" - that expenses actually could be cut by 50%, as a result of which an extra collective payment from members is expected of 0.75 to 1.5 million Euro. He also mentioned that in addition that collective specific payments may be required for specific products or projects. "We aim at decreasing the cost with the same activities."

Graph of expenses

The discussions about the merger with producers organisation DPA are, according to Mulder, just about complete. "The discussions are gaining momentum and this will definitely lead to a proposal toward ALV. We function almost as two of a kind.
Henk Stigter of the NVWA gave a presentation after this about the progress of the file to realise entrance to the Chinese market for Dutch Conférence pears. It became clear from the presentation that this is a long process. "Hollanders and Chinese have drive and business instinct in common. Only in China they are not as yet used to quick action as they are in the Netherlands."

Henk Stigter

Henk explained the process to put a bilateral discussion on the agenda, after which the Chinese supplied a report which showed 132 bacteria and fungi on pears remained. "Finally this could be reduced to a more compact list, which in the end could be reduced to the fruit moth (codling moth) and blight, but that took quite a lot of time."
Finally the work led to an incoming trade delegation in September, two Chinese ladies who visited the Dutch pear chain. Henk looks back at a successful week. "One cannot solve all problems, but a lot can be prevented with a visit. The Chinese were impressed by the technical novelties and traceability, but do not understand that there are rotten pears under the trees. Therefore much is to be explained."

Import restrictions were a matter of many questions with the traders present and why plenty of Chinese products are imported. Henk mentioned that Chinese legislation has been set up differently, but that protection of the market is responsible for this to a large extent. "As Europe we are very open and liberal. Also a completely different set of problems as the Asian longhorn beetle have a delaying effect on these files. Also Belgium, which has entrance to the Chinese market with
Conférence pears, does not show all it knows."
Inge Ribbens of Frugi Venta agreed. "The United States now have entrance to the Chinese market with its pears, with which a kind of exchange took place with Chinese pears on the American market. As a sector we also try hard to achieve this with a chain encompassing plan by Greenport Holland International, in which for instance glasshouse builders are represented in order to assist the Chinese cultivation technically with the export of Dutch product."
"I understand that you as an exporter want to start as soon as possible, but it is not all that simple. It took twenty years for the export of pigs legs to China to be allowed. Now these attempts will be recovered in two months" Henk Stigter argued.
He still had a clear message for the Dutch exporters. Entrance to the market is one, but marketing is two. "During my visits to China it became clear that the outside of the Conférence pear is not popular in Hong Kong and China. They will really have to be convinced by the taste of the Conférence pear."

There is absolutely no cooperation at the moment when exporting to Hong Kong, which is allowed and in many cases is a transit port to China. "Last season we competed against each other, with about ten exporters on the market in Hong Kong. This of course has a price depressing effect. On the other hand, because of the lower prices, the Conférence pears end up at many more consumers in Hong Kong and this is good, because finally taste must convince them."

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