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China’s Monthly Durian Imports Hit Record High in April

June 12, 2023

Durians have this year achieved unprecedented popularity on the Chinese market, especially during the peak export season for Thai durians in April. According to data from China Customs, China imported 221,000 metric tons of durians worth 7.51 billion Chinese yuan ($1.05 billion) in April 2023, with the import volume and value both setting new monthly records. Based on this trend, China’s total durian imports in 2023 are likely to exceed 1 million metric tons.

In comparison to import figures since 2017, China’s import volume of fresh durians in April of this year surpassed the previous record of 127,000 metric tons by nearly 100,000 metric tons. In terms of value, meanwhile, China’s durian imports in April were more than twice the previous peak of 3.5 billion yuan. In fact, the import volume in April was almost equal to the total volume of 224,000 metric tons imported during the whole of 2017, while the import value was double that registered in 2017. This demonstrates that despite this year’s significant increase in import volume, the unit price has remained at a relatively high level.

In April of this year, imported fresh durians came from three countries: Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. Imports of Thai durians totaled 206,000 metric tons and 7.04 billion Chinese yuan ($985 million), while imports of Vietnamese durians reached 14,000 metric tons and 470 million yuan ($65.8 million). Durians from the Philippines only secured official market access to China in January of this year, with the first-ever shipment of Philippine durians to China landing in Shanghai in April. During that month, 251 metric tons of Philippine durians worth 6.94 million yuan ($971,000) were shipped to China. The import unit prices of durians from the three countries were 27.6 yuan ($3.86) per kilogram for Philippine durians, 33.5 yuan ($4.69) per kilogram for Vietnamese durians and 34.1 yuan ($4.77) per kilogram for Thai durians. These prices contradict the traditional impression that durians from Vietnam are much cheaper than those from Thailand.

The explosive growth in durian imports can be attributed to the immense popularity of the fruit in China. In recent years, durians have undoubtedly become the leading fruit item on the Chinese market. This year, the topic of “durian blind boxes” has surged on social media and short video platforms. Those with little flesh and thick shells are jokingly referred to as “revenge durians,” while those even worse are ridiculed as “durian candies.” Nonetheless, this phenomenon has stimulated durian sales to a large extent.

Online platforms have also witnessed a high demand for durians. According to the person in charge of fruit procurement at Meituan Maicai (美团买菜), “Durian sales on our platform showed a remarkable growth from April 1 to mid-May, with an overall increase of around 711% compared to the same period last year. The sales volumes in Shanghai and Wuhan rose by approximately 40 times and 20 times, respectively.”

The booming market for durians in China has stimulated increases in both the prices and production of durians in their producing regions. With the influx of capital into the Thai durian sector, the scramble for premium durians is becoming fiercer. Meanwhile, a large number of farmers in Vietnam have been transitioning their orchards to durian cultivation to take advantage of this lucrative market.

Image: iStock

This article was translated from Chinese. Read the original article.

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