Fresh flavors take flight: Zhiguan blueberries from Yunnan soar to Japan

On April 14, a refrigerated truck loaded with fresh blueberries left Pengsheng Yunnan's Zhiguan Blueberry Planting Base heading towards the airport. After a brief stopover in Fuzhou, the blueberries landed in Tokyo. This marked Pengsheng's first trial of Zhiguan (“branch crown”) blueberries in the Japanese market and also the first shipment of fresh blueberries from Yunnan to Japan.

The first batch of Zhiguan blueberries took only 20 hours to arrive in Tokyo, where they successfully passed the plant quarantine inspection carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, as well as the pesticide residue tests carried out by the Ministry of Health, Work and Wellbeing. After customs clearance, they were transported to Ota Market in Tokyo, the largest wholesale fruit market in Japan. The blueberries sold out quickly, with positive feedback from the market and distributors noting that the freshness and quality of the blueberries was excellent.

According to Pengsheng, the company successfully obtained GlobalG.AP and ISO 22000 food safety management system certifications last year to strengthen its efforts to access overseas markets. Pengsheng also collaborated with its export partner Zhangzhou Dexing to proactively explore the needs of Japanese customers and make sufficient preparations for cooperation with Japanese importers.

Before testing the Japanese market, Zhiguan blueberries already successfully entered the Hong Kong market last year, followed by the first shipment to Thailand in February this year. Pengsheng plans to further expand into Japan and Southeast Asia markets in the future, with an expected total export volume of around 50 metric tons within 1 to 2 years. During the market testing phase, air freight will remain the primary shipping method. In the future, however, the intention is to gradually move to large-scale shipping, aiming to achieve weekly deliveries after gradually establishing itself in nearby markets.

The reason behind Pengsheng's decision to enter the strict Japanese market lies in the company's confidence in the quality of its products. Zhiguan blueberries are grown in greenhouses using substrate growing techniques. Throughout the entire growing cycle, professional growers use specialized equipment to precisely monitor and control water and fertilizer use and carry out pest control. This meticulous crop management ensures the healthy growth of blueberries throughout the production process, while continually improving the flavor and quality of the fruit.

After ripening, Zhiguan blueberries are hand-picked by workers using thimbles and packed into boxes, ensuring maximum integrity of the fruit. Manual selection also serves as the first stage of size selection, followed by an initial quality assessment by on-site quality inspectors. The harvested blueberries are then quickly sent to pre-cooling centers in packing rooms to quickly reduce their core temperature, thus extending the shelf life of the fruit.

After the first stage of pre-cooling, the blueberries are transferred to processing rooms, where packing workers complete the second stage of size selection and quality inspection according to strict standards, while removing substandard fruits. After weighing and packaging, the blueberries undergo a third quality inspection step in the warehouse before shipping. Upon completing these three stages of quality selection, the fruits enter the finished product warehouse for secondary precooling and are sent to the market the next day. The high quality standards implemented for Zhiguan blueberries apply not only to exported products but also to those sold in the domestic market.

To date, Zhiguan blueberries are grown on approximately 400 hectares in dedicated planting bases in Yunnan, Liaoning, Shandong and Sichuan provinces, as well as other regions, with a total global planting area of ​​approximately 1.350 hectares. Thanks to the coordination between domestic and international production areas, a stable year-round supply of Zhiguan blueberries has been achieved, thus providing consumers in China and elsewhere with fresh and high-quality blueberries all year round.

Images: Shanghai Pengsheng Industrial Co. Ltd.

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