Durian is creating a ‘fever’ in China

Rising demand for durian makes it China’s top import, both in volume and value.

Durian, the “fruit king” of Southeast Asia, is creating a fever in China. The high demand of the people makes this the leading import item of the country, both in quantity and in value.

The boom is fueled by the new Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which makes it easier for China to import fresh fruit from Southeast Asian nations under a major free trade framework.

The RCEP, which came into effect in January, is now the largest trading bloc, accounting for 30% of world GDP. China is also a member of the bloc, along with Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand and several other Southeast Asian countries.

Xishuangbanna city in Yunnan province, China is currently the largest concentration of durian in Southeast Asia. This area is always crowded with traders, tourists and countless delicious imported durians.

A trader told Nikkei Asia that the market currently consumes 1 ton of durians per day during the peak tourist season. Although costs have decreased since the RCEP took effect, the price of this item is showing signs of increasing due to excess demand.

In 2021, fresh durian imports increased 42.7% year-on-year to 821,600 tons, while import value increased 82.4% to $4.205 billion. Both topped the fruit category, according to Chinese customs statistics. Import activity nearly quadrupled compared to 2017 and this trend is expected to continue strongly this year.

Rising demand for durian makes it China’s top import, both in volume and value.

“The Chinese believe that durian is a special fruit and needs to be eaten often. The demand for durian is very beneficial for us. We are happy when Chinese merchants come to place orders even before the collection. planning,” said Savarat Nangsangian, a 56-year-old farmer.

Previously, even during the pandemic and disrupted supply chains, Chinese traders who used to travel throughout Thailand to buy durian directly from farms found new ways. They rushed to buy in large quantities from the beginning of the year, then flew back home before Thailand announced the closure of international flights.

“The Chinese traders have built an extensive network and know when we are ready to harvest the fruit. 2020 is a successful crop,” said one farmer.

The taste and high nutritional value of durian appeal to both Chinese tastes and eyes. Although the price is quite high, falling at more than 7 USD / piece, but this is still a particularly sought-after fruit. Many dishes are made from durian, such as durian cake, durian milk crepe, durian pizza and durian hot pot. All received positive comments from consumers on social networks.

Faced with increasing demand, durian growing countries rush to expand their export activities. Thailand’s durian output will be around 1.29 million tons in 2021, up about 30% from 2019. “China’s imports are already very high, but it is expected that per capita consumption here will increase further. Thai farmers are therefore motivated to expand production,” a representative of the Embassy said. Thailand in China said.

Durian cake has become a popular menu item at high-end Chinese restaurants.

In addition, the Chinese especially love “Musang King”, a high-class Malaysian durian product named with the beautiful name: “Durian Hermes” of the mainland. Output is expected to drop this year due to heavy rains, but the Malaysian government is working to boost exports and expand durian plantations. Vietnam and Laos are also seeing a large wave of investment, including capital flows from China.

For these Southeast Asian countries, China’s participation in RCEP is like a breath of fresh air. In addition to eliminating tariffs, the agreement stipulates that clearance of perishable goods will be essentially completed in less than six hours. This significantly reduces costs and gives durian a big advantage because freshness is so important.

On the other hand, the durian boom also reflects the challenges of forming a large-scale free trade zone with China. Disruptions in the market are possible, as Malaysia is developing durian cultivation in tropical rainforests, for example, which experts say could have a major environmental impact. No one knows how long the durian craze in China will last, even as output capacity in exporting countries is expanding rapidly.

This leads to a consequence, that many countries will be overly dependent on the Chinese economy. Normally, it takes more than 5 years for a durian tree to grow and bear fruit. If China suddenly stops importing after production is ramped up on a large scale, farmers will be the subject of heavy losses.

In 2021, fresh durian imports increased 42.7% year-on-year to 821,600 tons, while import value increased 82.4% to $4.205 billion.

According to Nikkei Asia, China has repeatedly tried to cultivate high-grade durian in provinces such as Yunnan, Guangxi, etc. Although the high latitudes, frequent storms and different climatic conditions cause many difficulties for the process. commercialization, but increasing consumer demand is motivating many companies to step up investment and cultivation of durian.

Then, what if China succeeds in producing domestic durian? Like a premium Japanese grape called “Shine Muscat”, durian production could be widespread in China before the world realizes it and the prospect of a market dominated by Chinese durians. Country is possible.

Source: https://cafef.vn/sau-rieng-dang-tao-nen-con-sot-tai-trung-quoc-20220830211000598.chn