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Vietnam Overtakes Thailand as China’s Top Durian Supplier

April 10, 2024

In the first two months of 2024, Vietnam surpassed Thailand as the leading supplier of durians to China on account of the former’s off-season durian availability. Thailand has long been China’s main supplier of the pungent fruit, although Vietnam has been gradually catching up since market access through regular trade channels was granted in July 2022.

According to data from China’s General Administration of Customs, China imported a total of 53,110 metric tons of durians throughout January and February, up 0.4% over the same period of last year. Of these, 32,750 metric tons (61.7%) originated from Vietnam, while the remaining 19,614 metric tons (36.9%) and 745 metric tons (1.4%) came from Thailand and the Philippines, respectively.

During the indicated period, Vietnam supplied China with 2.4 times more durians than in 2023, while Thailand’s shipments fell by half year on year. In terms of pricing, Vietnamese durians averaged $4,916 per metric ton, somewhat lower than the $6,133 per metric ton reported for Thai durians.

Dang Phuc Nguyen, general secretary of the Vietnam Fruit and Vegetable Association, noted that the increase in Vietnamese durian exports to China was primarily attributable to the year-round availability of the fruit as well as Vietnam’s geographical proximity to and shared border with China, both of which facilitate logistics, alongside the competitive prices.

Owing to the strong demand from the Chinese market, durian prices in Vietnam hit a record high in March. Prices in the Mekong Delta, where the off-season crop is grown, have been on the rise since the start of the year and peaked in March with a 15% month-on-month increase. Grade A Monthong durians were selling for 218,000–230,000 Vietnamese dong ($8.74–9.22) per kilogram, while grade B and C durians were selling for 195,000–200,000 dong ($7.82–8.02) and 100,000 dong ($4.01) per kilogram, respectively. Prices for the Ri6 variety, on the other hand, have fallen owing to an abundant supply.

In preparation for the signing of the protocol for frozen durian exports to China, the Plant Protection Department of Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development requested an examination of the growing areas and processing facilities in order to ensure compliance with China’s standards. According to Nguyen, if frozen durians are granted access to the Chinese market, the export value of this product could increase by 30% every year. This year’s durian shipments to China are expected to top $3.5 billion.

With respect to fruit quality, China’s General Administration of Customs recently issued a warning over the detection of cadmium in some shipments of Vietnamese durians. An internal inquiry is reportedly now being conducted in Vietnam to determine the source of the heavy metal contamination in the batches in question. According to the Plant Protection Department, the possible culprits may include soil, water or emissions from nearby factories, as well as the water used to wash the fruit. While these investigations continue, officials have encouraged growers to implement stricter controls over their inputs and farming practices and rigorously test cadmium levels prior to shipping to avoid further problems.

Image: iStock

This article was based on a Chinese article. Read the original article.

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