The world’s second-largest tomato exporter has officially applied for access to the Chinese market, with expectations that snacking tomatoes will prove popular with consumers.
Kun Han, the chief representative of China for fruit and vegetable industry association the Fresh Produce Center, said the Ministry of Agriculture had sent off the request to the Chinese authorities earlier this year.
Han explained China’s phytosanitary watchdog AQSIQ only allows for one product to be requested from each country at a time. With the help of Wageningen University which carried out some market research, it was decided tomatoes would be next.
“The application has already been sent, so we are expecting soon we hope that AQSIQ will send the experts to do the risk analysis here in the Netherlands,” she told PBUK at last week’s Amsterdam Produce Show.
She said research had shown there was interest from numerous Chinese importers and supermarkets in Dutch tomatoes – especially cherry tomatoes – in part due to the taste and lack of pesticides.
“Almost 90% of all greenhouse production can be controlled by biological control…so that’s why we believe there is a market in China for this high-end product,” she said.
She said that as with bell peppers, tomatoes would likely all be shipped via air freight.
In terms of how long it might take for the market to officially open, Han said it was very hard to say at this point.
“The procedure is typically about four years. The Dutch pears took seven years to get market access to China, while Polish apples took two years,” she said.
In 2016 the Netherlands exported close to 800,000 metric tonnes (MT) of fresh tomatoes (excluding re-exports), according to UN Comtrade Data, putting it behind Mexico but in front of Spain.
Market access for Dutch bell peppers was gained earlier this year following joint inspections in 2016.