The second day of the Shanghai International Fruit Expo was another success. The expo floor was bustling as before, and crowds of visitors enjoyed a wide variety of company booths. The theme of this expo is 'Global fruit, Chinese market'. This expo is specialized in the Asia-Pacific region, but brings together high-quality fruit from all over the world to promote developments and innovations in the fruit industry.
The number of visitors was low compared to similar expositions prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, but the proportion of industry specialists was much higher. "Our booth was very busy on the first day of the expo. We had visitors with interest in our products who came to ask questions, and we had colleagues who came to socialize," said the representative of one participant company. Another added, "we have not had an expo of this size during the pandemic. One of our aims is to promote our products during the expo, but we are also taking advantage of this opportunity to reconnect with old friends and meet new friends in the industry."
This edition of the Shanghai International Fruit Expo primarily features domestic companies due to pandemic restrictions. Some of the participant companies own plantations in China and focus on export, while others are involved in import services in one way or another. Some have many years of experience in fruit import, and even own plantations in overseas production areas, while others are searching for new import partners to expand their own product lines.
One member of the organizing committee, Mr. Huang, talked about the impact of the pandemic on the Shanghai International Fruit Expo, as well as changes in the Chinese fruit market caused by the pandemic.
First, the mix of imported fruit products in the Chinese market changed during the pandemic. "The outbreak of Covid-19 complicated international distribution of fruit products. There was a shortage of shipping containers. Cargo space was scarce. Shipping costs soared. Operations in production areas were interrupted or delayed. Customs procedures were extended due to additional preventative measures and disinfection. And the occasional positive test of Covid-19 traces on the packaging of import products further added to the chaos. All of these developments created new headaches for importers," explained Mr. Huang.
"As a result, the mix of import fruit products in the Chinese market changed. The most significant change was a reduction in import fruit from temperate zones and an increase in import fruit from tropical regions. That is because most temperate zones are more distant, and the rising shipping costs reduced their competitive market advantage. Tropical fruit, especially fruit from Thailand and Vietnam, had a shorter distance to travel, and therefore gained a competitive advantage over import fruit from production areas farther away."
Second, China has already been through a period where 'supply does not meet demand', but that time is over. The Chinese market and the traders in that market have matured and become more international.
"The easy times are over for importers and wholesale traders. It is no longer sufficient to own a booth in a market and wait for customers to come to you. Companies that can not guarantee a steady supply of top-quality fruit are being phased out of the market. The deck of cards is being shuffled, and only the fittest survive. Even the survivors have to work hard to transform and excel. Traders have to make the leap from pure 'wholesale traders' to comprehensive 'supply chain managers'. This transformation includes services for investors, and the requirements for management capacity are much higher. The process is difficult, but like a butterfly breaks from its cocoon, the victors will reap their rewards."
The organizing committee held a festive banquet on the first day of the expo to express their gratitude to everyone involved. The guests gathered in a large hall for dinner and freely talked about developments in the industry.
"Fruit retail is still rather old-fashioned. Buyers and sellers require in-person social exchanges. The brands whose representatives were able to attend the expo and interact with Chinese clients have an advantage over the companies who were unable to visit China. We hope that many overseas fruit suppliers see the Chinese market potential and come to Shanghai for an open talk about developments in the industry," said Mr. Huang.
For more information:
Mr. Huang - Organizing committee member
Shanghai International Fruit Expo