On this Valentine Day, it is appropriate to post something about what probably is one of the most romantic fruits: the strawberry. It’s hard to imagine why the apple is the “forbidden fruit” of lore, when the voluptuous and fragile strawberry is so much more tempting. Strawberries are temptingly red and sweet. The are an all time favourite flavour for ice cream, candy, cake, pie and other sweet treats.
3,449,000 mt of strawberries in 2020; up 5.3%. Moreover, higher production of fresh strawberries will back further development of the strawberry processing sector in the country. It is estimated that China’s frozen strawberry production will increase by 15% year-on-year to 150,000 mt. Beijing’s Changping region is a major strawberry producing region in China.
The 7th International Strawberry Symposium was held in Beijing in 2012. The following video gives an impression.
Strawberries are regarded as a delicacy. Hence, each strawberry is treated with extreme care in China. The following picture shows how a grower wraps each single strawberry separately.
As regards exports, China’s fresh strawberry exports are insignificant due to high shipping costs. The following table shows the Chinese exports of frozen strawberries during the past few years
These figures show a steady growth.
For imports, only less recent figures are available.
There seems to be no clear proportion between imports and exports.
The following video is less slick than the one shown above, but gives a direct insight in a Chinese diced strawberry plant.
Strawberry as ingredient
Strawberries are rarely used by the food and beverage industry as whole fruits. They are usually processed into powder, jam, pulp, etc. While such products are mainly supplied to industrial clients, Youlian Food (Longhai, Fujian) also markets its freeze dried strawberry powder in 50 gr packages to consumers that like to bake strawberry flavoured cakes.
The Food Ingredients China (FIC) trade fair, March 23 – 25, 2016, included 6 exhibitors with strawberry-derived ingredients.
I have shown an example of a strawberry flavoured milk beverage in an earlier post. In this post, I will list a few other examples of strawberry flavoured foods and drinks. Also see the vinegar strawberries in my post on vinegar-based foods and beverages.
Meijing brand Strawberry sugar free candy
Meijing Food Co., Ltd., Shanghai
strawberry powder, additives (liquid maltitol, citric acid, food flavour, acesulfame-K, ponceau 4R colour).
Although strawberry powder is used, both colour and flavour require enhancement with additives.
Laobute Strawberry Flaky Pastry
Quanjia Food Co., Ltd., Beijing
Crust: wheat flour, butter, food additives(maltitol, xylitol(2%)), eggs, skimmed milk powder.
Filling: wax gourd, additives (maltitol), strawberry pulp, veg oil, water.
The interesting aspect of this recipe is that wax gourd (donggua) is used to create a fruity mouth feel, which is apparently not accomplished by the strawberry pulp by itself.
Mengniu Strawberry Milk
Mengniu Dairy, Huhhot, Inner Mongolia
water, fresh milk, coconut milk, crystal sugar, HFCS, strawberry cubes, food additives (CMC, citric acid, lactic acid, sodium citrate, aspartame, sodium cyclamate), food flavour
This is a good example of a Chinese formulated dairy drink in which milk is but one of the many ingredients. The brand name Zhen Guoli translates as ‘Real Strawberry Cubes’. That may be true, but it is a far cry from real milk.
The following two pictures show a few strawberry flavoured foods on the Chinese market in 2022. The first is a mix of products and the second shows exclusively strawberry milk. Real strawberries may not be used in all these products, obviously.
Chinese can come up with funny combinations of flavours. Baozang launched a Cheese Strawberry drinking yoghurt late 2019. An influencer praises the combination of the ‘fermenting cheese flavour and the sweetness of the strawberries’. Why not?
Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975 and regularly travels to the remotest corners of that vast nation.