Aneberries president Mario Andrade toldwww.freshfruitportal.com the officials would stay from Feb.24 to March 3 to evaluate crops and cooling facilities, and assess risks.
“If everything goes as it has to date, they will be signing the opening protocols in October when president [Enrique] Peña Nieto visits China,” the industry association chief said during Fruit Logistica in Berlin last week.
“Firstly it will be blackberries. While the idea was to open to all berries, the Chinese authorities told us it would be one by one.”
If the doors open for blackberries, raspberries will be next in line, followed by blueberries. The association and the Mexican government have left strawberries out of the deal for the moment due to competitive factors with Chinese growers.
“We know that strawberries have the most strength of production in the market, but in any case we have been told there could be more of a market for us in the other three berries: blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, in that order,” Andrade said.
“China has great biodiversity and the capacity to grow them [berries] more, but one of our strengths is the know-how that we have gained throughout the years, and that’s the edge we have over the Chinese, which is fairly big.”
He added that another Chinese visit to Mexico would likely be planned before Peña Nieto’s visit in October, and the plan would be to send fruit as soon as access is achieved.
“The idea would be to sign the agreement and pack the containers right away, and the airplanes, with the first Mexican blackberries.
“Today Guadalajara is the backyard of berries in terms of logistics, and from there we have two flights direct to Hong Kong each week with Cathay Pacific, and two flights direct to Seoul with Korean Airlines; from what we hear, there will be another destination opening.
“I think any direct flight is worth the premium you pay in the cost against the savings from a stopover, because in a stopover you can lose your fruit.”
Andrade believed the opening for other berries would be very quick once a protocol is signed for blackberries, given their similar production and cold chain systems.
“The management is the same for raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. The coolers are the same, the fields are neighboring one another, so there is not a real difference between each crop in terms of national risk.”
The executive added that Tokyo and Hong Kong were currently the main Asian destinations for Mexican berries.
Fresh Fruit Portal