California comes to Shanghai

Secretary Ross (center) at the Longwu Imported Fruit and Vegetable Market in Shanghai, with, L to R, Richard Matoian, American Pistachio Growers; Zhen Xu, Agricultural Trade Office - Shanghai; Candy Hansen-Gage, Center for International Trade Development; Zheng Xu, General Manager, Longwu Market; and Keith Schneller, Agricultural Trade Office - Shanghai.

I am making my first-ever visit to Shanghai, China and I’m very impressed with the quality and reputation of California grown food products here. I’m joining 27 California food companies as part of a trade mission supported by the California State Trade Export Program and facilitated by the Fresno Center for International Trade Development. This mission is truly bringing a taste of California to Chinese consumers.

China is our fourth largest export destination for agricultural products, representing more than $1.4 billion in exports. Our tree nut, fresh fruit, wine, cotton and dairy farmers enjoy great results and have increasing export potential within the market.

Accompanying me on this mission are fresh fruit exporters from Lodi, tortilla chip makers from Fresno, an export trading company from Los Angeles, and many other companies representing some of the best products California has to offer.

My visit included a meeting with the Shanghai Longwu Imported Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale Trading Market, where fresh California citrus and cherries were available and on prominent display. Importers from the market spoke about the high quality and diversity of California products in China and that, in some cases, demand is surpassing available supply.

With growing competition from South America, California fruit imports remain strong, but are not experiencing some of the robust growth that is occurring with Chile, Peru and other markets. Prospects are optimistic for California, but we need to work harder to achieve greater market access for products (such as strawberries) and reducing tariffs on a host of products. Chinese fruit importers are looking for new, flavorful products and believe California, with its great diversity of offerings, can help meet this growing consumer demand.

One of the interesting marketing channels I was able to observe in Shanghai was an actual channel, as in television – the Shanghai SMG-CJ Home Shopping Co., Ltd. Live TV sales of California food products on the channel are very successful, with more than one container of product–1,600 cartons–sold every 30 minutes. The sales and promotion there stress California’s reputation for freshness, taste and quality.

Shanghai is a dynamic market and I look forward to spending time with participating companies and the great staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Trade Office in making further inroads for California food products.

The studios of the Shanghai SMG-CJ Home Shopping Co., Ltd. (the China equivalent of QVC).

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