January fry imports up 30%
Chinese fry import demand continues to increase strongly with the US and Belgium making the biggest gains in the market. During January 11 823 tonnes of fries were imported, up 29.3% on the previous January figure. The annual total increased by 21.3% to 147 806 tonnes. The average price of product in January was CnY7 503/tonne, up just 2.9% on the January 2015 price.
US imports rose by 36.2% in January to 8 206 tonnes or 69.4% of the total, up from 65.9% in January 2015. Over the year US imports have increased by 24.6% to 103 667 tonnes. The US remains the most expensive supplier with the January average at CnY8 045/tonne, an increase of 3.6% on the January 2015 price.
Canadian fry imports were up 9.4% in January to 1 369 tonnes, but fell by 26.5% to 18 348 tonnes over the year. The average price of Canadian fries in January was CnY6 452/tonne, similar to the Dutch price. Dutch imports during January were down 48.6% to 249 tonnes, but increased by 80.8% to 4 199 tonnes over the year.
Belgium is well ahead of its neighbour when it comes to fry exports to China. In January the country was the second largest supplier to the Chinese market at 1 413 tonnes, up 50.5% on the January 2015 total. Annual imports rose by 121.8% to 17 539 tonnes. German fry imports have also more than doubled over the last year but the volume is still at a small level.
Increased local manufacture
As well as increased import demand, Chinese fry manufacture is increasing. The latest example of this is a tie-up between Chinese manufacturer American Lorain and TaiMei, the processor that was acquired by US company Lamb Weston in 2014. The initial arrangement is for TaiMei to process 2 000 tonnes of French fries for American Lorain which supplies a variety of processed foods. American Lorain is also increasing its own output of fries.
Dollar strengthens after being unpegged last year
The dollar continues to strengthen agains the Chinese RMB or Yuan as the Chinese economy struggles to grow. This would suggest that imports should decrease as they become more expensive, but the demand for fries continues to increase.
In August last year the US dollar was unpegged agains the dollar. Since then the dollar has increased in value by 4.8% to US$1:RMB/Yuan6.5. The relationship between the Chinese currency and the euro has always been more fluid. A € is currently worth RMB7.1, which is a similar level to a year ago, but 15.5% weaker than two years ago.