New Zealand exporters rush fresh food to China via charter shipments

New Zealand exporters are accelerating shipments of fresh food to China to grab the vast consumer market by increasing charter flights and vessels.
A charter vessel loaded with 4,500 tons of seasonal Zespri kiwifruit from New Zealand is expected to arrive in Shanghai on Saturday. This will be the third shipment of Zespri kiwifruit arriving in China this year, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The company is chartering more ships to get kiwifruit to China faster. Normal container shipments take more than three weeks, but the direct charter service takes only 10 to 14 days to get to Shanghai, though it costs more.
“China is the largest single market for Zespri, or about 20 percent of its total global business. To ensure the efficiency of transportation, we have increased the use of charter shipments from seven to nine this year,” a spokesperson from Zespri told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Exports of fresh food, seafood in particular, were initially affected by the onset of COVID-19 during the Chinese New Year holiday, but trade is now recovering, according to the New Zealand China Council.
“Maintaining supply to China is critically important for our producers, and both the public and private sectors have been working together to ensure that our supply chains remain open,” Rachel Maidment, Executive Director of New Zealand China Council told the Global Times on Tuesday.
China is New Zealand’s largest trade partner and a key market for New Zealand food producers. Its top exports to China include dairy, meat, seafood.
“In terms of air freight, the government and private sector have moved quickly to ensure that channels are kept open for premium New Zealand products to be exported,” said Maidment.
Air New Zealand resumed daily cargo flights between New Zealand and China on March 31.
The planes carry seafood, honey, health products and milk powder to China and transport masks, protective clothing, hand sanitizer and routers to New Zealand, an employee of the airline told the Global Times on Monday.
Its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner can uplift 11 cargo pallets. Each of these pallets can hold up to 12 cubic meters in volume and up to 4.6 tons in weight, according to the company.
China is New Zealand’s largest food and beverage export destination with a 31 percent share, according to New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE).
“Food and beverage exports to China grew 34 percent in 2019 to NZ$11.3 billion ($6.9 billion), accounting for 68 percent of total merchandise exports. Dairy, meat and fruit products are the top three food and beverage exports to China,” Maxwell Shi, regional marketing and communications manager of NZTE Greater China, told the Global Times on Monday.
According to Shi, NZTE is working with Air New Zealand, freight forwarders, exporters and government agencies to support additional charter flights to back its exporters.
Demand for imported fruits in China rose amid the coronavirus pandemic, with orders doubling year-on-year, according to data from FruitDay, a Chinese e-commerce provider that focuses on importing global fresh fruit products.
Source: Global Times

Since March 31, Air New Zealand has resumed daily cargo flights between New Zealand and China. Photo: Courtesy of Air New Zealand

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