A mar­ket that is ripe for pick­ing

China Daily (Canada) - - ANALYSIS - By LI JING

li­jing2009@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

In Chi­nese cul­ture, pears are re­garded as in­ap­pro­pri­ate gifts be­cause the Man­darin word for pear is a ho­mo­phone of a word that means to leave.

Faced with such su­per­sti­tion what is some­one who sells red pears to do, other than play­ing up an­other Chi­nese su­per­sti­tion that red brings good luck?

Two red va­ri­eties of pear, Starkrim­son and red An­jou, were among va­ri­eties from the United States that were given ac­cess to the Chi­nese mar­ket in 2013 af­ter sand pears from China were given ac­cess to the US.

Last sea­son, from Septem­ber 2014 to April 2015, 360,000 boxes, each weigh­ing 10 kilo­grams, were ex­ported to China, 13 per­cent more than in the pre­vi­ous sea­son, and making China the fifth-largest ex­port mar­ket for the US for pears.

US pear grow­ers launched a pro­mo­tion in Guang­dong prov­ince in Novem­ber, hop­ing to build on their ear­lier suc­cess.

“Within five years I ex­pect China to rank among the top three ex­port mar­kets for pears from the US,” said Louis Ng, China rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Pear Bureau North­west, which promotes fresh Western­style pears grown in Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon states, which com­bined pro­duce 84 per­cent of pears grown in the US.

China opened its mar­ket to fruit im­ports 16 years ago, and the top three fruits that the coun­try im­ports from the US are cher­ries, or­anges and ap­ples, the US Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture said.

In 2007, North­west Cherry Grow­ers in Yakima, Wash­ing­ton state, shipped 285,000 9-kg boxes to China. By 2012, that num­ber had grown to 2.06 mil­lion.

On Tmall, the on­line re­tailer owned by Alibaba Group Hold­ings Ltd, the num­ber of cher­ries sold in China rose from 160 tons in 2013 to nearly 650 tons in 2014. Add in JD.com and the num­ber rises to 1,000 tons, said Keith Hu, di­rec­tor of in­ter­na­tional mar­ket­ing at North­west Cherry Grow­ers.

Of course, the vol­ume of fruit im­ported af­fects the prices at which it is sold, so cher­ries, im­ported in great vol­umes, sell for about what they sell for in the US, whereas pears, im­ported in lower vol­umes, cost a lot more than they do in the

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