Ricky Chong with World Fresh Exports just returned from a month-long trip to China, where he and his team visited several growers and packhouses and saw the development of China’s fresh produce industry firsthand. “I was blown away by how much agriculture there is in China,” said Chong. At an elevation of 2,000 meters or higher, he saw an abundance of crops being cultivated. From lettuce to grapes to citrus, it all grows at high altitudes and an average temperature of 28°C. Chong witnessed lots of new developments and explained how more than half of the acreage is covered, either under plastic or through greenhouses.
Tad Brusseau and Ricky Chong visiting a citrus grove in China.
In addition to large volumes, Chong was amazed by the high-quality products he saw. How have the Chinese been able to develop both quantity and quality in such a short amount of time? “They hire experienced agronomists from the USA, Korea, Chile, and others with years of farm experience.” Another reason they are able to grow such high-quality produce is growers focus on quality instead of quantity. In the USA, for instance, table grape growers produce about 1,800 cartons of grapes per acre. In China, on the other hand, the number is closer to 450 or 500 cartons per acre. This allows them to grow high-quality fruit and above-average returns to growers.
Tad Brusseau, Ricky Chong, and Kim Hoang looking at Chinese grapes.
As a result of China’s quality improvements, demand for imports has started to show a decrease. “Chinese producers have become very transparent about the practices at the farm, and many are working with celebrities to shoot footage at the farms. As a result, Chinese consumers increasingly trust domestically grown fruits and vegetables, and the e-commerce market for fresh produce has become gigantic.”
Back in 2020, Word Fresh Exports started their own operations in China. Since then, the company has been working with Chinese growers and packers to provide Southeast Asian consumers with the highest quality produce possible. “A new initiative we are working on with the local governments of Guanxi and Yunnan, two growing provinces, is to develop quality export fruit. In collaboration with local government bodies, we help growers receive stronger returns for their products,” commented Chong. They grow everything, with citrus, grapes, and apples being their main crops.
“The region, about 20 kilometers from the North Korean border, arguably grows some of the best apples in the world. Inner Mongolia, for instance, grows the unique Begonia apple.” Produce from these two provinces is exported to Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. However, there is also growing interest from the US, Canada, and Europe.
Kim Hoang looking at blueberries in China.