Industry experts are concerned that while China is the world’s largest fruit growing country, accounting for 13.4% of the global fruit output and 21% of the global orchard acreage, its per capita harvest is only 66% of the average global level.

This means that while elsewhere per unit output is around 75kg, in China it is only 47kg, displaying much scope for improvement.

One area identified for improvement was the level of exports. In 1998, China only exported 1.5% of its 59m tons of produce to other countries. Similarly, while apples are exported in the largest volumes, the 1998 quota amounted to only 22% of that which left France.

Other problems highlighted include an unscientific product mix. Of the country’s 8.4m ha of orchards, 40% are used for apples and China also accounts for 69% of the world’s total pear growing acreage.