Egypt is expanding its share of the Chinese market for imported frozen strawberries, reports EastFruit. The Egyptian exports to China from January to November 2023 have already surpassed the total amount of the previous year, making Egypt the top supplier of frozen strawberries to China for the fifth consecutive year.
“Six years ago, China was the world’s fourth-largest exporter of frozen strawberries, and it exported much more than Egypt. But the situation has changed dramatically since then, and last year, Egypt exported several times more frozen strawberries than China. In fact, the import and export volumes of frozen strawberries in China are almost the same now,” says Yevhen Kuzin, Fruit & Vegetable Market Analyst at EastFruit.
Egypt managed to increase its exports of frozen strawberries to China by tenfold from 2018 to 2022, and in the first 11 months of 2023, it shipped nearly 35 thousand tons, a 9% increase from the whole of last year. Most of the growth happened in the second half of 2023, while in the first half, the Egyptian frozen strawberry exports to China sometimes were even lower than the year before.
It is worth noting that China imported 39.7 thousand tons of frozen strawberries and exported 40.2 thousand tons from January to November 2023. Besides Egypt, other minor suppliers included Chile and Morocco. In turn, China mainly exported to its neighboring Asian countries (Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, etc.), as well as some distant markets (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, etc.).
“The impressive growth of Egyptian frozen strawberry exports to China shows how well this country has diversified its fruit and vegetable exports, which used to focus on Europe and the Middle East. The next step for Egypt could be to enter the Chinese market with fresh berries. For instance, in Southeast Asia, Egypt has been one of the largest exporters of fresh garden strawberries for several years,” says Yevhen Kuzin.
Since the peak season of fresh strawberries in Egypt is from December to February, Egyptian exporters can expect to see several spikes in consumer demand in China. One of them is the Chinese New Year, when the sales of local sweets tanghulu (candied fruits) soar. Red is also a very popular color in China during holidays, as it represents happiness, luck, and abundance. Another factor is the growing popularity of less traditional holidays for China, such as Christmas, Western New Year, and Valentine’s Day, especially among the Chinese youth.
“Although China hardly imports any fresh strawberries, the potential of the Chinese market is quite promising, as seen in Hong Kong. Hong Kong traders import about 6-7 thousand tons of fresh strawberries every year, and their suppliers include not only China and nearby Japan and South Korea, but also the USA, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, and even Egypt, though with very small volumes of up to 80-120 tons per year. Exporting fresh strawberries requires different methods of processing, logistics, and marketing than frozen ones, but the prices for the final product are much higher for fresh berries”, concludes Yevhen Kuzin.
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