Mexican soft fruit association Aneberries has revealed it is close to finalizing negotiations to enter the Chinese market, following news that a new direct flight link for fresh products will begin between Guadalajara and Hong Kong this September.
Although 85-90% of Mexican berries are currently exported to the U.S. and Canada, Aneberries president Mario Steta said the sector was making a “serious and coordinated effort” to break into Asia, supported by Mexican government’s attempts to gain formal access in several nations.
“We are undertaking projects focused on the Chinese market and we are studying opportunities in South Korea,” he toldwww.freshfruitportal.com.
“At the moment, Aneberries is finishing the technical dossier for all four berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) to achieve the official opening of the Chinese market. This process is being complemented by work to improvement shipments, through which we have already agreed direct flights from Guadalajara to Hong Kong, beginning in September.”
Although blueberries along with strawberries are the best known and positioned berries in China, Steta said Aneberries believed blackberries and raspberries had more potential in the long term.
“Raspberries and blackberries are products in which Mexico is already strong and where there is big consumption growth potential in Asia, especially when we look at what has happened in markets like Europe.”
Steta revealed that, if successful, Aneberries’ entry into the Chinese market would be accompanied by some “very intense” promotional campaigns, including tastings and exhibition appearances, to raise awareness of the berries.
The last 12 months have seen Mexico’s berry sector “change for the better”, according to Steta, as the country’s strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries receive ever greater recognition in international markets.
The increasing success is driven by greater awareness of the health benefits of eating berries, as well as by the extensive work carried out by Aneberries in Mexico and the U.S. to highlight the benefits the sector brings to Mexico in terms of job creation, higher exports and support for producing regions.
At the current time, between 70% and in the case of strawberries 95% of Mexican berries are exported to the U.S. each year. However, a quarter of Mexican blueberries are now shipped to Asia and other markets, along with 10% of total raspberry production.
Steta emphasized Aneberries was working to improve the image of Mexican soft fruit, explaining the organization had recently contracted specialists dedicated to reviewing all aspects of the industry relating to food safety and the application of phytosanitary standards.
“Both these issues are of importance to the Mexican berry sector and for this reason, we have invested in achieving the proper functioning of the work these people are carrying out,” he said.
Steta added that Aneberries as an organization hoped to make further progress towards improving food safety and traceability at its upcoming third annual congress, to be held from Sep. 18-20 in Zamora, Michoacán.
The association’s member growers farm more than 10,000 hectares of berries in Mexico and export an estimated 65 million cartons of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries between September and June every year.