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Juan Carlos Martínez, from The Natural Hand: "Next year, we plan to send between 60 and 70 containers"

Spanish Rojo Brillante kakis shipped for the first time to China

On December 14, the first shipment of Spanish kakis went to China after the protocol required by the Asian country was signed, which includes cool treatment between 0 and 2 degrees Celsius prior to shipment.

One of the companies responsible for this milestone is The Natural Hand, based in the municipality of Albal, Valencia, which will ship two 20,000 kilo containers with the logistics operator MSC. The containers will depart from the port of Algeciras bound for the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Guangzhou.

“Our entry into China with the Rojo Brillante kaki is the result of an agreement with a local client; an operator that currently has more than 6,000 stores and 79 million members throughout the country. This guarantees that the volumes to be exported in the coming years will be large,” said Juan Carlos Martínez, CEO of The Natural Hand. “Thanks to our experience with kakis in Hong Kong, our 9 years exhibiting at Asia Fruit Logistica and the years that we had been exporting citrus from a well-known brand in China, we have a large client base in the country,” he added.

José Miguel Ferris, mayor of Albal; Simón Martínez Ruiz, general director for Agricultural and Livestock Production of the Region of Valencia; Juan Carlos Martínez, CEO of The Natural Hand, and Pascual Prats, president of the Spanish Kaki Association.

“Since the protocol was signed in the first quarter of 2023, we've had several months of hard work both in the field and in the packaging center,” said the producer and exporter. “We have carried out numerous tests to select only the best farms. China is the most demanding market that we know of and, although this is a challenging year to select such a quality, given the impact of climatological factors, we always tend to have plots that will provide us with premium products for the Chinese New Year in other Asian countries to which we usually ship every year. We hope that this great celebration happening so close after the arrival of our kakis will further boost interest in them.”

"We are responsible for around 85% of all Rojo Brillante kaki exports to Asia, so we are the driving force of kaki exports to these destinations. We are highly specialized in long distance shipments and that is why we are ready to open this new trade route with China, which involves a transit time of between 37 and 40 days from the time the fruit is harvested in the field until it reaches its destination."

In fact, the protocol requires the use of a dedicated gas chamber for the elimination of the astringency of the kakis intended for China, as well as of a cold chamber, also exclusively for the exports to this country. Furthermore, controls must be carried out constantly on the registered farms.

“When working with China, if the fruit does not arrive in the required condition, there is no plan B. The only alternative then is selling at the same price as local kakis, which would not cover the costs,” said Juan Carlos Martínez. "Exporters willing to ship to this country must be aware that it is a very challenging destination and that they must prepare themselves well, since errors can be very costly and affect the reputation of the country of origin, as we already saw happen a few years ago with oranges and lemons.”

“If all goes well, next year we plan to send between 60 and 70 containers of kakis to China. A future consequence of exporting to this country is that fewer kakis will go to Europe (the natural and most important market for Spanish kakis), which will help ensure a better balance between supply and demand. If production peaks can be avoided, prices will be more profitable for the growers and for the marketing companies and cooperatives.”

It has been agreed with the importing partner in China that a percentage of the fruit of these first shipments from The Natural Hand will be used for promotions at the points of sale of several supermarket chains. The idea is to help consumers become more familiar with the Rojo Brillante kakis from the Region of Valencia.

"We have already had positive experiences in the markets of Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore, so we are sure that Rojo Brillante kakis will be very popular in China, since they stand out from the local varieties, which are smaller, with a softer texture and a less attractive skin," said Juan Carlos Martínez.

"I would like to thank the Spanish Kaki Association, of which our company is a member, for the interest and commitment it has shown at all times," said the CEO of The Natural Hand, which this year also expects its kaki exports to the United States to grow.

The next target will be India, where the company expects to send its first kaki shipments next year, after having already signed the protocol, as well as Peru. The sector is also potentially interested in the Japanese market.

For more information:
Juan Carlos Martínez
The Natural Hand
Hort de Calafre, 6
46470 Albal, Valencia, Spain
T: +34960046320
[email protected]

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