David Adamia, the sales director of Russia Green Planet Co., Ltd., first traveled to Tongnan District in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality in November, to look for new lemons for his company. After touring several lemon growing bases in Tongnan, Adamia signed a 600-million-yuan (85.2 million US dollar) purchase order with a local company on Nov. 14.
Shortly after that, fresh lemons were loaded on a China-Europe freight train in Chongqing and appeared in Russian markets after an eight-day trip. Adamia said the high quality and reasonable price of Tongnan lemons attracted him.
Tongnan and its surrounding area is one of the world's top lemon producing areas, along with California, Sicily and other regions. The lemons of Tongnan, however, have not been known in the international market, as its landlocked location means costly and lengthy logistics.
"Cargo from Tongnan used to take at least 40 days to reach Moscow, but fresh lemons only have a shelf life of up to a month," said Adamia.
Thanks to the China-Europe freight trains launched under the Belt and Road Initiative, Tongnan lemons can now reach Russia in eight days, and Western Europe in 13 days.
As reported on xinhuanet.com¸ Tongnan lemons are well received by Russian consumers for its high quality and affordable price, Adamia said. At Russia's Food City, one of Europe's largest farm producer wholesale markets, 85 percent of the lemons are from Tongnan. Tongnan lemons are also sold to Southeast Asian countries including Singapore and Indonesia.