China visit flags up trade opportunities for suppliers

The rise of China as a force in global horticulture should not be a cause for alarm among British growers and suppliers, according to Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) chief executive Nigel Jenney.

It presents exciting opportunities for the export of fresh produce, technology and know-how, he told Grower after returning from an FPC-organised trip to the mainly agricultural coastal province of Shandong.

"For the import/export point of view it's a great opportunity," said Jenney. "The Chinese are very keen to build stronger trade relationships with the UK, including sourcing produce, technology, IT and agronomy from here, and their professionalism is very impressive," he added.

Of the Chinese market, Jenney commented: "The UK perception is of a land of small farms and modest incomes. But most of it is now a developed rather than developing country."

He added: "Its people have sophisticated tastes and are keen to enjoy things that are quintessentially British - not just Scotch whisky and smoked salmon, but also British produce."

And while cagey on the specifics of current UK produce exports to China, Jenney said there are already "three different products" being shipped out.

But produce imports from China can also only grow, he maintained. "Those who are committed to developing an export business are very keen to understand consumers' expectations elsewhere," said Jenney.

He continued: "They already export to other countries in the Far East, including Japan, where quality standards are far higher than those in the UK."

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