SA grape sector makes headway in Chinese market
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DURBAN - THE SOUTH African Table Grape Industry (Sati) broke into the significant Chinese market through the launch of its inaugural China table grapes promotional campaign at the Jiangnonghui Fruit Wholesale market in Guangzhou on Friday.
The event was said to symbolically mark the official beginning of the 2021 South African table grape season in China, which brought to that market premium quality, highly demanded varieties grown by South Africa’s export-oriented master horticulturalists. Traders and consumers in China would benefit from Sati’s “China Specification,” exclusively developed to ensure the best possible South African table grapes provided to this highly discerning market.
Sati chief executive Willem Bestbier said they were proud and excited to launch its first-ever South African Table Grapes market development campaign in China.
“This campaign brings together specially selected growers and exporters from our beautiful and diverse country, South Africa, and renowned importers, wholesale markets, the trade and retail in China. The aim is to showcase South African table grapes that are truly worthy of the campaign slogan ‘Beautiful Country, Beautiful Fruit’,” said Bestbier.
Sati partnered with leading Chinese fresh fruit importer and distributor Goodfarmer to stage the celebration, which took place both on a main stage and with ancillary activities throughout the market. Freshly imported shipments of South African Crimson Seedless, Sweet Globe, Sweet Sapphire and Sweet Joy table grapes from importers Rui Ocean and Berda Fruit were featured as part of the celebration.
South Africa is already a leading global exporter of fresh fruit. However, historically Europe has been the main destination for its fruit exports. The promotional campaign launched by Sati reflected the China market’s growing importance.
South Africa's agricultural sector is highly export-oriented, with exports accounting for roughly half the production in value terms, about $10.2 billion (R150bn) in 2020, up by 3 percent year-on-year.
Last month Sati released the fourth crop estimate for the 2020/2021 season, which showed that intake volumes had increased to between 67.2 and 70.9 million cartons.
Last month, the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) said that key markets that South African agricultural role players were interested in included China.
Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo said that these were countries that South African policymakers should engage with productively to benefit the domestic agriculture and food industry.
“Some products already have access, but increased tariff-free access for a wide range of agricultural products that are likely to see strong growth in the coming years should be a priority for market access,” said Sihlobo.
General manager of Shanghai Goodfarmer Apple Eric Zheng said South Africa was a beautiful country with a unique geography and climate well-suited to cultivating premium quality fruits, of which its fresh, sweet, juicy and crisp table grapes were among the best.
“We at Goodfarmer are committed to providing consumers with healthy, delicious fruit and vegetable products through our network of distribution centres and wholesale market sales centres covering 26 provincial capitals across China. We look forward to working with Sati and our other partners to give more consumers in China access to fresh, delicious and healthy South African grapes,” said Zhang.
More than 90 percent of South Africa’s table grape production is seedless, and the diverse growing conditions make it possible to cultivate a broad range of mostly new generation table grape varieties.
Sati said that it had developed a range of initiatives and marketing assets to support its new China campaign, which would continue throughout the coming seasons in the form of educational events, trade outreach, retail promotions and more. These include a Chinese-language campaign logo, a dedicated website and newsletter, and Chinese-language promotional materials. The campaign was being delivered in partnership with the Department of Agriculture of the Western Cape, the key table grape growing region of South Africa. It also enjoys the support of the exporters organization the Fresh Produce Exporters Forum .
Sati representatives had been visiting China often in recent years to listen and learn from both traders and consumers to grow a product that suits the market requirements.
Bestbier said the objective was to continuously improve towards a quality, safe and healthy product exhibiting excellent eating quality – juicy, sweet and crunchy table grapes for Chinese consumers to enjoy. “This will be achieved in a long term and mutually beneficial partnership and our commitment to the Chinese market. We wish everybody a successful campaign, enjoy our table grapes and we warmly invite you to engage with us on this exciting journey.”