Analysts tip Asian affluence for fresh produce growth

Two food market analysts have pointed out the transformation that Asia's rapidly growing middle class is bringing to the global fresh produce market.

Promar International consultant Andrew McLay said: "There is little population growth in developed markets, but a growing middle class elsewhere - people who shop at supermarkets, buy branded goods and so on. There are 500 million such people in Asia now and they will be three billion by 2050."

An Australian study found that fruit and vegetables will be second only to meat as an import opportunity to China, he added. "Future demand is assured."

The study projected a rise in China's imports of fruit and vegetables from under US $10bn in 2007 to around US $60bn by 2050.

"You will also get companies from emerging markets inverting in developed markets," McLay added. "Already the biggest beef company in the world is not American - it's Brazilian."

Meanwhile, European Food & Farming Partnerships partner Duncan Rawson agreed that the growth of affluence, rather than population numbers, was the driving force. "The rise of China is an opportunity for us to supply them but it is also a threat because they can supply us too."

Rawson said while longer-term predictions have a habit of quickly becoming obsolete: "Whichever way China goes now has a big impact on everyone else."

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