A complete overhaul of the Chilean grape industry

The Chinese import market offers a wide variety of fruits, and grapes are among the best-sellers. Spring is gradually turning into summer in China and the temperatures are rising. That is one of the reasons why market demand for grapes is growing. Chilean grapes perform particularly well in the Chinese market for import fruits. Their supply season begins in January and continues until April. The supply volume is rather large and clients keep an eye out for these grapes.

Daniel Ho of Shanghai Topsun Fresh Co., Ltd. personally visited vineyards in Chile to inspect the grapes and try new varieties. Daniel recently talked about his findings.

"The Chilean grape season proceeded as usual. The product quality of Chilean grapes benefits from the characteristic Mediterranean climate zone in Chile. The price is quite stable," said Daniel.

"However, the overall export volume of Chilean grapes to the Chinese market declined this year. There are several reasons for this development. First, Chilean vineyards are currently in the process of moving from certain traditional grape varieties to several new varieties. Many of the old grape plants have been cut down, and new varieties are being planted, but this takes time. That is why the production volume temporarily declined. Another reason is that some Chilean grape exporters worry about the uncertainties of shipping times and other logistical troubles that affect transport to the Chinese market. Moreover, shipping costs are still extraordinarily high. That is another reason for the reduced export volume to the Chinese market. In addition, the USA is much closer to Chile and market demand for Chilean grapes is strong, so the majority of Chilean grapes are destined for the USA. Three years ago China consumed about 20% of the Chilean grape export, but their share is now down to 15%."

"Chilean grapes have several advantages. First, they enter the Chinese market when spring turns into summer. That is precisely when market demand for grapes grows stronger. Second, the labor cost in Chile is lower than in other grape production areas. Moreover, there is no tax, which keeps the cost price low. Three, most of the vineyards in Chile are located in areas where fruit flies do not exist. Chilean grapes do not suffer from a variety of insect pests that are mentioned in quarantine and inspection regulations. That means the Chilean grapes do not require fumigation, which benefits the product quality. It is our estimate that there is still a huge potential for Chilean grapes in the Chinese market once the old varieties have been completely replaced with new varieties and the production volume is back to normal. Chilean grapes are definitely on a par with Australian grapes in terms of product quality."

Shanghai Topsun Fresh Co., Ltd. owns the brand name 'Topsun'. They sell black grapes, red grapes, and green grapes under this brand name.

"We have carefully selected our vineyards and improved the packing and distribution methods, so that we can guarantee the highest level of product quality and freshness," explained Daniel. "Chilean grapes have traditionally been packed in plastic bags, which are packed into plastic or wooden crates. This year we switched to cardboard boxes because they better for the environment. We also bulk pack the grapes to eliminate the individual plastic bags.

"After the grapes are cut into manageable clusters, they are put directly into the cardboard box. This method also eliminates the cost of plastic packaging for farmers and makes their work easier. This method of packaging is also better for the grapes and reduces waste. Moreover, while most importers opt for sea freight, we use chartered flights so that our grapes arrive quicker and fresher. The current retail price is around 250-300 yuan [38.78-46.54 USD] per box of 4.5 kg.

"Although the cost price of air freight is higher than sea freight, the product quality is better and demand is always stronger than supply. Some of the grape varieties we import are sold out in advance. This year we mostly imported black grapes, but of course we also sell green and red grapes."

When asked about company prospects, Daniel replied: "Our consumers have become more mature. They do not necessarily look at the origin of the grapes, but at the product quality and freshness. The Chilean brand did not use to have a great status, so the market was average. But this year we worked closely together with our strategic partners in Chilean vineyards to showcase the product quality and market potential of Chilean grapes.

"We hope to support our strategic partners in Chilean vineyards with our understanding of the Chinese market and Chinese consumers, as well as solutions for market transparency, packaging, and logistics. That is how we guarantee our consumers the highest quality grapes. In the end, both our suppliers and our clients benefit. We hope to bring all our effort and capacity to continue adding value to the industry."

For more information:

Daniel Ho

Shanghai Topsun Fresh Co., Ltd.

Tel.: +86 138 1721 4619 

WhatsApp: +86 138 1721 4619 

E-mail: daniel.ho@topsunfresh.com 

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