Domestic fruit, add some sweetness for a better life (visit the new consumption trend of "fruit country" (part two))

  Recently, domestic cherries have been listed in succession. The picture shows that on June 6, tourists picked cherries in an orchard in Duzhuang Town, Haigang District, Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province. Xinhua News Agency reporter Yang Shizhen photo

  June-July is the peak period of blueberry ripening in China. The picture shows villagers loading blueberries at the Blueberry Garden in Sucun Town, yinan county, Linyi City, Shandong Province on June 9. Yin Junshe (Xinhua News Agency)

  It’s midsummer, and fruits are concentrated in the market, which is a good time to taste early in the year. After eating fruit one after another, careful consumers will find some changes: the big cherry produced in Shandong is full of crisp and sweet juice; Blueberries produced in Yunnan are good in size and freshness; Kiwifruit produced in Shaanxi can be eaten at home … These used to be imported "leading role" fine fruits, but now there are more and more domestic choices.

  In fact, China is the largest fruit producer and consumer in the world. When domestic fruits gradually move towards the quality route, it also means that consumers can get more fruits with high quality and good price, and the early adopters will take longer. How is this achieved? Where is the future of fruit industry development? Our reporter takes you to experience the journey of fruit from field to table.

  On the table

  Domestic fruits are eye-catching

  "The blueberries that are precious in my impression are now more and more close to the people." Lao Li is in charge of food procurement for a family of five, and blueberries are a frequent visitor to his basket. He found that recently, the price of some supermarkets’ blueberries dropped to one box in 7.9 yuan (125g per box), and the price was only two boxes in 30 yuan, so the family’s "blueberry freedom" was more guaranteed. After a little attention, he also found that most of these blueberries are produced in Yunnan, and they are imported in terms of taste, size and freshness.

  Not only blueberries, but also small fruits with good taste used to be imported from abroad. But today, from red grapes, tangerines, cherries and kiwis to mangoes, lychees and pitaya, almost every kind can be preceded by a famous China place name. For consumers in China, this often means a longer time for early adopters and more affordable prices.

  For example, with the industrialization of blueberry cultivation in China, fresh blueberry fruits gradually mature from south to north, from greenhouse to field, and the time to market lasts from March to October. At the peak of domestic blueberry ripening from June to July, the average price of fresh fruit is 30-40 yuan per kilogram, while the average price of imported blueberry market from November to February is 66-80 yuan per kilogram.

  Domestic fruits are moving towards new varieties and high quality, which is very obvious in the sales terminal. Hainan Xiyuan Ecological Agriculture Co., Ltd. is an enterprise engaged in planting and selling tropical and subtropical fruits. In recent years, the company has introduced and cultivated "new exotic and excellent" fruit and vegetable varieties, and supplied many new domestic products such as bird’s nest fruit to the market. "We have feedback from a large retailer with long-term cooperation. About 10 years ago, 90% of the fruits they sold were imported. Now the proportion of domestic fruits accounts for more than 30%, and the proportion is still expanding." Liu Chengxin, deputy general manager of Hainan Xiyuan Ecological Agriculture Co., Ltd. said.

  In the eyes of the industry, this change is not deliberate, but the result of the overall improvement of the domestic fruit industry. "The branding and large-scale development of domestic fruits have been constantly put forward and practiced in the industry seven or eight years ago, but it takes time for agriculture to be done. In the past two years, more and more obvious results have been directly perceived by consumers." Zhai Shujia, head of Taobao’s agricultural technology and product incubation center, said.

  The vigorous market demand is the direct driving force of industry transformation.

  China is the largest fruit producer and consumer in the world. According to the Report on the Development of Fruit Industry in China in 2022 (hereinafter referred to as the Report) issued by China Fruit Circulation Association, the total output of fruits in China in 2021 is about 300 million tons. "From the analysis of existing data, the total supply of fruits is very sufficient, and the varieties are rich. It can be said that there are fruits every day and fruits every season." Li Huanling, deputy secretary general of China Fruit Circulation Association, said.

  However, there is still much room for improvement in the per capita consumption of fruits in China. According to the report, in 2019, the per capita fruit consumption in China was 56.4 kg, which was still far from the level of 105 kg in developed countries.

  At the same time, the structural contradiction between supply and demand is prominent. In 2021, China’s total fruit imports reached more than 7 million tons, up over 10% year-on-year. "On the one hand, import supplements the shortage of domestic fruit categories and seasons, on the other hand, it meets the demand of domestic consumers for high-end and high-quality fruits." Li Huanling said. High-quality demand is precisely the future growth point of domestic fruits.


  The variety of sketch fruits is rich.

  The news that the first batch of domestic durians in Hainan is about to "ripen on trees" has excited many people, which means that China consumers will eat Chinese durians for the first time, breaking the impression that "durians can’t be planted in China" for many years.

  In the plantation of Xiyuan agriculture in Hainan, 1,300 mu of Maoshanwang durian has also begun to bear fruit, but it is still in the stage of "raising trees". It will take some time for consumers to really taste the fresh fruit of Maoshanwang durian. In order to ensure the freshness of fruits, imported fruits are often picked under immature conditions. After a long transportation, the taste and quality will be discounted. For a long time, Maoshanwang durian imported from China market only has frozen fruit instead of fresh fruit, which makes Liu Chengxin look forward to this durian orchard.

  It takes a lot of effort to let consumers try early. "In fact, China has been trying to grow durian for nearly 70 years, and it has only been successfully planted in recent years." Liu Chengxin said that different soil environments, water and fertilizer consumption, pest control and other processes are different, and it will take quite a long time to break through technical barriers. Even now, the company’s durian seedling survival rate can only reach 80%, "you can’t win it when you see the opportunity."

  However, the huge durian consumption market in China still makes many practitioners unable to give up. According to the report, in 2021, durian imports ranked second among imported fruits in China, reaching 808,000 tons, up 40.2% year-on-year; The import amount ranks first, with US$ 4.12 billion, and 99.9% of durian imported from China comes from Thailand. "We have observed that the compound growth rate of durian in the domestic market exceeds 30% in three years, and the consumption potential is too great. The price and income of the whole industry are also very impressive." Hu Li, head of tropical fruit collection and marketing in JD.COM supermarket, said.

  Take blueberry as an example. According to the data released by the international blueberry organization, the global blueberry planting area reached 235,400 hectares in 2021, and China became the largest producer in the world with nearly 70,000 hectares of planting area, surpassing the United States, Chile and Peru. Blueberry is not a traditional edible fruit in China, but driven by consumer demand, there are currently more than 20 provincial administrative regions in China for blueberry industrial cultivation. Leading enterprises in blueberry industry at home and abroad, such as American Yike Berry, Australian Costa and China Xinrongmao, have invested heavily in Yunnan, the main producing area of fresh blueberry in China.

  Zhai Shujia has been engaged in agricultural science and technology for more than ten years. She feels that the biggest change in the fruit industry is to pay more attention to the needs of consumers. From this point of view, it will incite all aspects of the industry from planting to sales and drive the rise of domestic fruits.

  From a national perspective, the report shows that in 2021, the total fruit area in China was 12,808 thousand hectares, an increase over the previous year. At the same time, the area of traditional fruits such as apples and pears has been reduced, while the area of small fruits such as cherries, kiwis and strawberries has been expanding. "From the perspective of market performance, new varieties have good prices, high quality and excellent prices, big brands have high prices, low-end and low-quality staple goods have low prices, and the trend of high quality and good price, low quality and low price is becoming more and more obvious, and the price gap is further increased." Li Huanling said that the important direction of fruit transformation and upgrading is to optimize industrial layout and vigorously promote variety cultivation and quality improvement.

  Road room

  Post-mining treatment and transportation are on the rise.

  In Wugong County, Shaanxi Province, a dense kiwifruit orchard ushered in the fruit expansion period, and kiwifruit is the time to grow. "Cuixiang, an early-maturing variety, will mature in September, and then various varieties will keep up, and the fresh fruit period will last until the beginning of November. Coupled with the fresh-keeping part of the cold storage, the fresh kiwifruit on the market can be supplied all the time in May next year. " Liu Xiaofeng, head of Shaanxi Luyilong Agriculture and Forestry Development Co., Ltd., said that Luyilong owns 1,800 mu of kiwifruit orchard, and the biggest change in the past two years is that all kiwifruit produced in the garden is ready to eat, that is, the fruit can be eaten when it enters the retail end. Consumers no longer need to wait for the ripening process of kiwifruit.

  "Ready-to-eat kiwifruit guarantees the consumer experience very well. Now the market is still in short supply. As long as it produces good fruit, it is almost not sold." Liu Xiaofeng has been engaged in kiwifruit business for more than 20 years. In his view, "Ready-to-eat" is the key to crack the bottleneck of kiwifruit industry development, which is conducive to the standardization and improvement of all links from planting to post-harvest treatment.

  Kiwifruit is a climacteric fruit. Generally, it needs low-temperature storage and post-ripening transformation before it can be eaten. However, for a long time, the fresh-keeping technology and ready-to-eat supply of kiwifruit in China still have a big gap with the industrial powers. The data can tell us a lot: China is the world’s largest producer of kiwifruit. According to the report, in 2020, the output of kiwifruit will account for more than 50% of the world, far exceeding that of New Zealand (14.2%) and Italy (11.8%) which rank second and third. At the same time, China is also the world’s largest kiwifruit importer, importing a large number of high-quality fruits from abroad every year.

  "Three or four years ago, we paid attention to the fact that imported ready-to-eat kiwifruit sold very well in China, but there were almost no products in China that could compete with it." Zhai Shujia said that based on the judgment of the consumer side, Ali Digital Agriculture began to look for excellent producing areas in China and jointly cultivate and promote ready-to-eat kiwifruit.

  Among them, the biggest change is ripening technology. In the past, kiwifruit was generally marketed only after simple treatment, which was almost "guaranteed not to rot", but Zhai Shujia and the team wanted to do it: the kiwifruit bought by consumers was just hard and sweet, which was the best eating window. "With this as the goal, we push backwards according to different sales channels to determine which state kiwifruit should be in every link from picking, transportation to warehouse, and what kind of environment and temperature are needed." Yan Shujia said.

  Liu Xiaofeng is also the president of Wugong County Kiwifruit Association. He feels that with better income and clearer standards, the face of the whole local industry is different. Last year, after the ready-to-eat supply, the local land price of Cuixiang kiwifruit was higher than that of 0.5 yuan -1 yuan. Don’t worry about selling, more growers study technology, expand large-scale planting, and ensure good fruit production. Now, Liu Xiaofeng is most concerned about ensuring the stable output of the orchard. "Large-scale planting, standardized production and stable output are the future road of the industry." Liu Xiaofeng said.

  The journey of kiwifruit from the field to the dining table also represents a common problem in the development of fruit industry in China. In recent years, fruit production in China has developed rapidly, but the post-harvest treatment and deep processing of fruit still remain at the primary level. In terms of cold chain circulation, the report shows that the cold chain circulation rate of fruits and vegetables in China is only 35%, and the rot rate is 20%-30%, while the cold chain circulation rate of fruits and vegetables in the United States, Japan and other countries is over 95%.

  However, many people in the industry believe that stable quality, continuous supply and reasonable price-the demand for fruits in the consumer market is continuously promoting the scale and standardization of the industry. In China, the world’s largest fruit production and consumption market, domestic fruits will definitely add some sweetness to consumers’ "fruit freedom".

(People’s Daily Overseas Edition)