The Chile based office of China’s Joy Wing Mau Group (JWM), importers and distributors of over 2 000 containers of fruit from South America to China and the rest of Asia, are looking for more suppliers to meet the insatiable demand in that region.

María José García, and her colleague Claudio Salas in Chile with the first chartered JWM cherry vessel to China.

María José García, commercial manager and her colleague Claudio Salas are the two main representative of the JWM Group based in Santiago, Chile. They do all procurement for China and Asia from Latin America.

“We are committed with our customer to procure the best fruit, brand and quality we can procure from Latin America. We want to be in touch with those producers with meaningful experience and work. We want the best growers from different areas who have variety and in the right window for China to enable us to serve our customers. This last season we exported over 1 000 containers of cherries, 700 containers of Peru’s blueberries and between 300-400 containers of table grapes. We also source from Argentina, Peru and Brazil. We try to source from all countries,” states García.

She says they will export almost 300 containers of stone fruit, which include white nectarines and sugar plums from Chile. “These volumes are mainly to China with 60 containers of cherries being sent to other Asian markets such as South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand. Our aims is to also develop in other Asian countries. Vietnam is new, it is a market we are working on suppling into. The idea is to give our growers and export companies while we are trying to bring new opportunities. China always focuses on the premium fruit. They take the best and premium sizes and labels. We also have very good secondary markets to offer other growers and labels. We are also trying to bring this to our suppliers in Chile and Peru.”

JWM also export apples from Brazil to Bangladesh. “This depends every year on how they are moving forward with the apple crop in India. If there is an opportunity we take it. We also have some pear business from Argentina while we are also trying to develop cherries from that country. While it is smaller in size, things are developing,” states García.

García and the office in Santiago, arrange visits for the team from JWM in China to visit farms. “They come in person so that they can explain to customers the production areas. We invite some of our partners in Hong Kong to come to Chile and Peru too. We have been getting visits from last season onwards. The aim is for them to understand how the farms work, to know the production areas and how far the production travels from Santiago. They also get a good idea of the packing lines, the technology etc. It’s amazing because Chile has some of the most advanced technology available. That is because we are so far away from other markets, we have developed a lot of post-harvest technology to make sure fruit arrives in good condition at any of the far away markets. It’s probably very different to other supplying countries who are closer to the markets,” details García.

Freight rates coming down
García says they are relieved that freight rates have come down, while chartering their own vessels worked out very well. “This past season the freights came down to more traditional costs, but it is still higher in price than two to three seasons ago. There are a lot of different opportunities. As JWM we had a charter vessel during the cherry season for the first time in history. We had five vessel sailings with two exclusively for JWM’s cherries to China. This presented us with lots more opportunities to load. It was an amazing experience for us. We are happy how the chartered vessels worked because it went to other ports and relieved pressure on traditional ports. There was less congestion, we are very happy and expect to keep doing it for further seasons.”

“Our strategy is to procure the best varieties available with a focus on taste not volume. We also source some pears from Chile and Peru and Fuji’s and ambrosias apples from Chile. Going forward, depending on the year, we’ll look at citrus from Chile. That is the most difficult to work with from here. Australia are good competitors. We start with Peru blueberry. We do some soft citrus during a small commercial window. Sweetness is key in China. As a company we have all the infrastructure with an excellent team in China and Chile looking for the best fruit available to serve our customers in the best way possible,” concludes García.

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