California strawberries could be exported to China this summer if an agreement between the Asian country and the United States is reached.
The California Strawberry Commission says officials from China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) announced initiation of a draft protocol to export fresh strawberries from California.
“We are honored that the Chinese have allowed California to be the first location in the world to ship strawberries to China,” said Rick Tomlinson, president of the California Strawberry Commission.
Chinese officials are expected to visit California later this spring, with a decision possible shortly thereafter.
China is said to have significant domestic strawberry production, but their season typically ends in May, which is when California production typically reaches its peak.
California produces about 90 percent of the U.S. share of fresh market strawberries, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Fresh strawberries are grown on over 41,000 acres of land primarily in Monterey, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Sacramento counties. Total strawberry production in California is valued at about $2.5 billion.
According to the California Strawberry Commission, California exported over 250 million pounds of fresh strawberries and nearly 50 million pounds of frozen strawberries in 2014 with a combined value of $424 million.
More than 70 percent of California strawberry exports go to Canada. Other export markets include Mexico, Hong Kong and Japan.