For the past two years, our Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) in Shanghai, China has built a partnership with FruitDay.com, an online produce company that has thrived by harnessing the impressive power of Internet and TV retailing to reach Chinese consumers.
Last year, we introduced FruitDay.com to several U.S. producer associations who promote fresh fruit in China. As a result, FruitDay.com integrated U.S. fruit into its online inventory. This decision led to increased sales for both FruitDay.com and U.S. exporters.
The Washington Apple Commission, the California Grape Commission, the California Cherry Advisory Board, Northwest Cherries and Sunkist all participated in a FruitDay.com online promotion last year. With the addition of U.S. fruit, FruitDay.com’s sales during the peak season promotion were an impressive 180 percent higher than expected.
The success of U.S. fruit in online sales led FruitDay.com to expand to Chinese television on a popular shopping channel called the OCJ. FruitDay.com sold 3,500 boxes of Sunkist oranges within 30 minutes on OCJ in early 2011. This August, they had similar success when Chinese consumers bought 1,900 boxes of fresh Northwest Cherries worth more than $100,000 in less than 30 minutes.
FruitDay.com’s soaring sales are a reflection of increased demand in China for healthy, high-quality U.S. produce. During the first eight months of 2011, U.S. exports of fresh fruit to China and Hong Kong were $247 million compared to $211 million over the same time period the previous year, which is a 17 percent increase. Oranges, apples and grapes lead U.S. fruit exports to China.
With online and TV sales through companies like FruitDay.com, Chinese consumers can access U.S. produce more quickly and conveniently than ever before. We believe that by using these innovative sales and marketing techniques, U.S. produce exports to China will only continue to grow.
Beyond China, U.S. agricultural exports are thriving around the world. USDA recently forecast fiscal year 2011 and 2012 agricultural exports will reach a record $137 billion, $22 billion higher than the previous record set in 2008 and $28 billion above 2010. China is expected to remain our No. 1 export market.
Strong agricultural exports contribute to the positive U.S. trade balance, create jobs and boost economic growth. Efforts by our Agricultural Trade Offices support the strategic priorities of President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double all U.S. exports by the end of 2014 and create millions of new American jobs.