China looms as frozen strawberry leader

Feb. 1, 2006
China is increasingly dominating traditional United States export markets for processed strawberries. With projected annual growth of 10% to 15% in the

China is increasingly dominating traditional United States export markets for processed strawberries. With projected annual growth of 10% to 15% in the next five years, China is poised to overtake the United States as the world's leading strawberry producer.

The market for US-produced fresh strawberries, however, will continue its 25-year growth streak, says Rabobank's North American Food and Agribusiness Research group in a new report.

Although the United States is the world's leading strawberry producer, followed by Spain and Poland, the emergence of low-cost competitors such as Argentina, Chile, Morocco, and especially China is challenging traditional ownership of the global market for processed strawberries.

Because the low quality of its strawberry production makes it unsuitable for fresh export, China is developing its processing segment and targeting foreign markets such as Japan. China has increased its share of the Japanese frozen strawberry import market from about 38% to more than 60% since 2000, while US share of the same market has declined from about 41% to 20%.

The price Japan pays for US frozen product is roughly double that of China's, though there is also a difference in quality. China has even tapped the US market, nearly tripling exports of frozen strawberries to the United States between 2004 and 2005.

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