Exporters show off fruit of their innovative labours

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 September, 2011, 12:00am


A green apple that tastes like a red one and sweet corn that can be eaten raw are among produce being showcased at a trade fair before they hit local supermarkets.

About 330 exhibitors from 30 countries are taking part in Asia Fruit Logistica, which opened at the Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday.

Apart from offering a variety of new produce, organisers are keen to prove that fruit is still affordable despite rising worsening inflation. They say the wholesale price of apples has actually dipped.

Fruitmasters Holland, which represents 650 growers in the Netherlands, aims to bring a new kind of apple into Asia.

A cross between a red Delbare apple and a tart green Granny Smith, the Greenstar is green but has the sweetness of a red one.

'It is also crunchy like a green apple,' export manager Fabien Dumont said.

The Y.S. Company, which specialises in delicacies from Hokkaido, Japan, is showing off a new sweet corn that can be eaten after just washing it.

'It is sweeter and crispier than the others,' director Hideo Yoshida said.

But the convenience comes at a price - the corn costs double its more common counterpart. Because of its sweeter taste, Yoshida said Japanese people had them for dessert after eating sushi.

He said Japanese fruit exporters had seen a 33 per cent drop in sales since the nuclear crisis in March. 'They cannot tell the difference between Fukushima and Hokkaido. There's still a long way to go before we see a recovery.'

Mainland wholesalers said the price of apples - a major indicator for the fruit trade - had dropped from peak levels earlier this spring.

Jiang Yanquan, from Shandong-based Yantai Quanyuan Food, said increases in the price of insecticides and fertilisers had raised the price of apples last year.

But costs had tumbled since May and by the end of the year the price of apples would be 20 per cent less than last year.

However, other exhibitors said the price of other fruit was expected to rise as labour costs across the border rose.

Official Hong Kong figures show fresh fruit prices dropped 3 per cent in July, still about 9 per cent more than for the same period last year.