In recent years, dehydrated vegetables have become increasingly popular with consumers. In China, the consumption market of dehydrated vegetables is constantly expanding. In foreign trade, dehydrated vegetables are also the main products of China’s vegetable export.
Recently, Gao Zhuhua, president of the National Fruit and Vegetable Dehydration Processing Industry Federation, said in an interview with the media that the dehydrated vegetable processing industry has great development potential and is a “sunshine industry.” At the same time, industrial upgrading also faces bottlenecks that need to be broken.
Producing High Value-Added “Sunshine Industry” in Big Countries
China is a big country producing dehydrated vegetables. Statistics show that China’s annual output of dehydrated vegetables is about 800,000 tons, accounting for about 60% of the world’s total output.
China is a large agricultural country with a vast territory and diverse climates. China has rich vegetable resources and a wide variety of vegetables and has advantages in vegetable production. Provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities have promoted the development of the industry by virtue of their own production advantages and formed their own characteristics. For example, goji berries and tomatoes in Ningxia, onions and potatoes in Gansu, green peppers, red peppers and carrots in Shanxi, chives in Xinghua in Jiangsu, garlic and cabbage in Shandong.
Compared with ordinary vegetables, processed dehydrated vegetables have higher added value and are the main products of China’s vegetable export. Taking Ningxia as an example, in the first 10 months of this year, Ningxia cumulatively exported 16.646 million US dollars of dehydrated vegetables, an increase of 138.5% year-on-year.
Export Barrier Industry Standards to be Upgraded
China exports about 100,000 tons of dehydrated vegetables every year, which means that half of the dehydrated vegetables produced throughout the year are exported.
Exported vegetables need to have “record basis” and “traceability”, which is equivalent to “each product has an ID card.” In which field can vegetables be grown and which factory can be traced back. This is a mandatory requirement.
As an agricultural product export, dehydrated vegetables must strictly comply with the importing country’s requirements for pesticide residues and heavy metals. In fact, how to link the testing standards at home and abroad is the main problem that has troubled China’s fruit and vegetable exports for a long time, because different countries often have different requirements for agricultural residues and other aspects.
In 2013, China promulgated the “Maximum Residue Limits of Pesticides in Food”, which added more than 1,400 testing standards, but there was still a big gap compared with other developed countries.
In the relevant standards and specifications of dehydrated vegetables, there is no special description and regulations on pesticide residue limits. The industry pointed out that the dehydration process has a concentrated effect on the residue of dehydrated vegetables. It is unreasonable to limit the content of dehydrated vegetables based on the residual amount of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Regarding the current status of the industry standards for the dehydrated vegetable industry, industry insiders called: “Industry associations should cooperate with relevant departments to modify certain standards and issue them by authoritative departments, which is conducive to the formulation of industry standards and the development of industry standards. Formulation. Facilitate supervision. ”
Industrial upgrade to improve product technical content
In the past, low labor cost was our competitive advantage. Now, our labor costs have risen. Now, labor costs account for one-third of the cost.
Today’s labor costs are increasing, China’s dehydrated vegetable industry is still a “labor-intensive” industry. Foreign countries have a high degree of automation, and we must rely on manual operations, which can only be said to be “semi-automatic.”
Some companies have also introduced advanced foreign production lines, but foreign production lines may not be applicable to China.
The pipeline designed by foreigners is for locally produced food, such as potatoes, but some agricultural products with Chinese characteristics, such as chives, cannot be produced on imported pipelines. In this case, the production of dehydrated vegetables still requires a lot of labor.
From the perspective of production technology, most dehydrated vegetable companies in China are still using dry dehydration technology, and only a few companies have adopted freeze dehydration technology, which is also a blank abroad.
Heat-treated foods usually undergo large color changes, loss of taste, and poor taste. On the contrary, freeze-drying technology is more advanced and can better maintain the original nutrition and taste of the vegetables themselves. Correspondingly, freeze-drying technology also requires greater cost investment.
Low technical content and low equipment level are the limiting factors of current industrial development. The intensity of industrial transformation still needs to be strengthened.
There are four main types of dehydrated vegetable products, 80% of which are still traditional dehydrated vegetable products. Condiments accounted for 10% of the total, health food and convenience food accounted for 5%. The entire dehydrated vegetable industry has still failed to extend its tentacles to the downstream of the industrial chain, and efforts should be intensified to develop and promote new products.
Reduce labor costs, advance the industry from labor-intensive industries to automation and semi-automation industries, improve the technical content of products, and extend the industrial chain to downstream products. This is the direction in which future industrial development requires effort.