China still the Number One Market for Australian Stonefruit
3 February 2023
Australian stonefruit growers have had a reasonable season exporting to China with the market clearly the number one export destination, accounting for over 60% of export sales of nectarines and peaches. This is despite challenging growing conditions in Australia and the high cost and limited availability of air freight. Also, Chinese consumers have been cautious in spending because of general economic conditions and COVID. Gift boxed Australian peaches and nectarines sold well before Chinese New Year and were prominently on display in high end stores in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Some of these peaches retailed at RMB 99/500gr (AUD 42/Kg) but sales were largely restricted to wealthy buyers.
The effect of cost on volume of sales is quite dramatic. As Australian seafreighted nectarines arrive in mid January a greater range of individual corner fruit stores and the fruit store chains start to take the fruit. Regular fruit stores in Nanjing say they can move one box of nectarines every 2-3 days at retail prices of around RMB38-48/500g (AUD 16-20/Kg).
We believe that stonefruit sales will continue to grow in coming seasons, particularly before Chinese New Year, provided:
Airfreight freight costs decrease as they should as multiple passenger planes return to the Australia to China route
Quality of fruit is optimised – these are high-cost fruits for Chinese consumers and the eating experience needs to match the price. An importer in Beijing said that this season that nectarines have arrived looking good, but the fruit was a little lacking in sugars and shelf life was short
The stonefruit industry needs to invest some resources into Chinese social media promotion. Whilst Australia can’t in any way match Chile in marketing spend – it can replicate some of their initiatives (it is reported that Chilean Cherry Industry and exporters used 200 social media influencers to move 300,000 tons of cherry exports to China this season).