U.S. Citrus Popular in China; Private Labels Grow

Tacy CalliesChina, Marketing

Photo by Lucas George Wendt

In a recent report on China, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS) included sections titled “U.S. Citrus” and “Private Label Citrus – A New Trend in China.” Those sections are copied below.

U.S. citrus products enjoy a good reputation in the China market because of the premium quality and healthy benefits. Sunkist brand is well known by many Chinese consumers, especially in first-tier cities.

Meanwhile, sales of imported citrus via online shopping platforms represent a growing portion of the market due to improvements in logistics and infrastructure. Many analysts are optimistic that Chinese e-commerce and imported citrus products are a supreme mixture with a bright future.

With the expansion of online shopping, e-marketing is becoming increasingly important for promoting citrus products. By using social media, traders and brokers and even some citrus farmers can deliver a clear and enticing message to Chinese consumers via live videos.

Intense online and offline retail competition, especially in first- and second-tier cities, has encouraged regional supermarket chains and distributors to constantly look to differentiate themselves by sourcing new-to-market or unique products.

Freshness, taste, appearance, confidence in quality and prices are the major factors that influence Chinese consumers’ purchasing decision. The growing middle class is highly concerned about food-safety issues and is willing to spend more on products they know offer the highest quality.

As such, there is increasing demand for well-branded citrus products throughout the country. Responding to this trend, many domestic citrus suppliers are now striving to build their own brands where none existed before. This, and consumer interest in new fruits and varieties, create bountiful opportunities for suppliers who can offer new varieties to the Chinese market. Seedless and easy-to-peel hybrid citrus products will likely remain in demand.

Although consumers used to look for the sweetest fruit with the highest Brix level, companies are now advertising the sweet-to-tart ratio of fruits, indicating changing consumer preferences toward more balanced sweetness.

Additionally, private label citrus is becoming popular. Many retailers are keen to source new, well-branded items for their shelves, and several major supermarket chains have signed service contracts with key imported fruit suppliers to guarantee fruit quality and superior service. In addition, chain stores specializing in fresh fruit are expanding quickly and offer privately designed gift packages for their customers.

Source: USDA FAS