New Zealand organic apple sales continue to increase in China, despite the general market for imported produce under pressure this year.
New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower, Bostock New Zealand, has seen a 136 percent increase in organic apple sales this year across its direct retail programmes.
Bostock New Zealand International Market Manager, Jane Maclean says she’s been delighted to see Bostock’s organic apple programmes stand out in a tough selling year in China, with Sam’s Club a particular highlight.
“We don’t sell our organic apples into wholesale channels. Instead, we focus on direct supply into many of China’s key retailers, including Costco, Pagoda, JD.com and Benlai as well as our import partner, Joy Wing Mau.
“For our retailers, this offers more pricing stability. And for Bostock, this has allowed us to directly educate and promote to the end customer on the benefits of organic. Something which has been essential, as organic is still an emerging category in China. Converting promotional activity into volume has been challenging, but Sam’s Club has changed the landscape for us in a very short period,” says Ms Maclean.
Sam’s Club directly imported Bostock organic apples for the first time in 2020 and Sam’s Club Senior Buyer, Vincent Huang, says there were two key reasons behind this move.
“Sam’s Club take pride in caring about our customer’s health and Bostock organic apples fits this criteria. Secondly, we are dedicated to improving and adding value to our customer’s shopping experience. Directly importing Bostock organic apples means we can better manage and protect quality and pricing.”
Despite only stocking Bostock organic apples for one season, Sam’s Club volumes have increased 70% this year.
Mr Huang says Sam’s Club are happy with the strong growth in organic apple sales.
“Our customers have engaged well in our stores and online to organic information and catalogues and are paying more attention to the advantages of eating organic food.
“Trust is the other important factor. Our loyal members trust that Sam’s Club only source and sell genuine organic certified products,” says Mr Huang.
Jacky Qin, China Market Representative for Bostock New Zealand, re-iterates the importance of building trust in the mind of consumers.
“Our organic apples first sold in China in 2015 but our volumes really only started to increase two years ago. We feel the story of John Bostock, largest organic apple grower in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere and our reputation for trusted organic certification and food safety, has finally started to ‘stick’ which is cultivating larger groups of loyal, repeat consumers”.
Ms Maclean says Bostock New Zealand has supplied both organic Fuji and it’s IP variety, organic Dazzle to the China market this year.
Organic Dazzle is globally exclusive to Bostock New Zealand and is a bright red sweet apple which has been specifically developed for Asian markets.
“2021 is the first year Bostock had commercial volumes of organic Dazzle available so, it was great Sam’s Club were willing to take a chance and range it. We have invested a lot into this variety and were both excited and relieved to hear their customers loved the colour and taste, and to get that tick of approval.”
Despite its size and population and demand for premium, high-end produce, the China market has stubbornly remained a small and niche market for organic. It hasn’t helped that Bostock New Zealand is one of a few companies globally to have been audited and approved by WIT China to export organic fresh produce into the market.
Ms Maclean says “Once the New Zealand season finishes, consumers then need to wait another six months before organic apples are back on the shelves again and we lose traction. That is why its extra satisfying to see our apples finally become more of a mainstream product in the China retail sector.