China sees fruit imports increase

China's fruit imports have been growing rapidly in the past few years, thanks partly to the nation's growing middle class population and the emergence of a new generation of consumers willing to spend more on healthy food, and the trend has huge economic implications for China's fruit-exporting neighbors, experts said.

The comments came after the Myanmar Times reported on May 25 that China is buying up almost all of Myanmar's exported mangoes this year. And some Western media reports in early May said Chinese consumers' new-found interest in avocados might cause a worldwide supply shortage.

Chinese traders are paying between 80 yuan ($11.7) and 140 yuan for a 15 or 16 kilogram basket of Myanmar's Sein Talone mangoes this year, according to the report.

Zhu Danpeng, a food industry analyst, said that while the growth has been high in recent years, the potential of this sector has yet to be fully realized, given China's huge potential demand.

In 2014, China imported $5.12 billion worth of fruit, up 23.1 percent year-on-year. This was followed by a 14.7 percent annual increase in 2015, according to a post on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture in February. In 2016, the nation's fruit import volume dropped slightly, falling 1 percent year-on-year to $5.81 billion.

Guo estimated that the market for fruit from Thailand alone could hit $100 million in annual turnover, adding that Chinese customers' favorite kinds of fruit from Vietnam are pitaya and passion fruit.

"Among the fresh fruit imported from Southeast Asia, durians, longans and mangosteens are the top sellers," Guo told the Global Times Monday.

Guo said some kinds of fruit are seasonal, such as watermelon, mango, and rose apple, and this makes it difficult to estimate their import volume.

Since 2010, Laos banana exports jumped tenfold to become the country's largest export earner. Nearly all of the fruit is sent to China, according to a Reuters report in mid- May.


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