If the current pace of economic growth is maintained, future market demand for imported apples, pears, cherries and kiwifruit will steadily grow in emerging Asian markets, according to a new study published by Pullman, Wash.-based Belrose Inc.

Study looks at growth potential of Asian markets for importsDesmond O’Rourke, founder of Belrose Inc., Pullman, Wash., said looked at past income growth and its effect on imports as a way to help predict the future of demand for imported produce in those Asian markets.

The study shows big potential for increases but also predicts competition will be intense.

One of the study’s findings is that if per capita Gross Domestic Product were to grow through 2020 at the same rate as in the 2000-2010 period, forecast imports of 16 Asian countries would grow 83% for fresh apples. Pears, sweet cherries and fresh kiwifruit were forecast with even bigger gains, according to the study.

“Essentially I looked historically, as incomes grew in these different countries, what was their response in terms of apples, pears, sweet cherries and kiwifruit,” he said.

The analysis projects forward to 2020 and estimates import growth based on current growth of the Asian economies. The report also projects future demand based on economic growth half of current levels, O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke said the Asian market is important to U.S. fruit exporters for several reasons.

“More and more of (the people) in these countries are moving into what they call the middle-income level where they have $3,000 to $5,000 in per-capita income and at that point they become more open to things like fresh apples and fresh pears,” he said.

When those consumers move into the $10,000 to $20,000 range in per capita income, they are more open to products like sweet cherries and kiwifruit, he said.

In addition to rising income, many Asian markets don’t offer much competition to imports, O’Rourke said.

“The problem with Argentina or Brazil is that they have big fruit industries,” O’Rourke said.

China is a large fruit producer but also supports substantial imports because of its population, O’Rourke said.

The study forecasts big increases for imports of apples in China, and apples and pears in India. Indonesia, Vietnam and smaller markets like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand will also see very substantial growth, according to the study. In higher-income countries in Northeast Asia, like Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong, top growth prospects are reserved for sweet cherries and kiwifruit, according to the study.

The study also focuses on capturing market share in emerging Asian markets.

For more information about the report, contact O’Rourke at 509-332-1754 or belrose@pullman.com. The $300 report can be ordered online.