Sea freight suffered from the outbreak of the corona virus as the transport cost slightly increased and workers were in short supply. However, the maritime transport industry recently recovered. One spokesperson for a Guangzhou-based maritime transport company stated that the import volume of fruit in Guangzhou and nearby ports is not smaller than usual.
In Jiangnan Market, the trade volume of fruit and vegetables is even higher than around this time last year. While many wholesale markets throughout the country have measures in place to prohibit outside companies from purchasing fruit or vegetables, in order to limit the spread of COVID-19, Jiangnan Market is one of the foremost import markets in the country and has therefore decided to remain open to buyers from across China. Domestic companies therefore converge on Jiangnan Market to purchase import fruit. In Guangzhou, however, the import volume of fruit increased by 30%-40% in the period since Chinese Spring Festival [25 January, 2020] in comparison with the same period last year. There is always a strong demand for fruit and vegetables, and during the COVID-19 epidemic these agricultural products play an important role in the people's well being. Jiangnan Market has to guarantee a daily supply of around 80 thousand tons of fruit. Although trade through traditional marketing channels slowed down, the online sales of fruit during the COVID-19 epidemic showed significant growth.
As for domestic distribution in the past few weeks, some of the agricultural products supplied by Jiangnan Market in Guangzhou suffered from transport restrictions due to the corona virus outbreak. However, the market maintained regular levels of delivery for popular fruits and vegetables. Most areas of China, with the exception of Hubei, have resumed normal levels of distribution.
The cost price of sea freight showed a true increase during the corona virus outbreak. The added cost was mainly due to a growing back log in ports. Frozen meat products in particular were delayed in port as a result of the growing back log during the early days of the COVID-19 epidemic. The shipping containers with frozen meat require electricity to keep the temperature low, and the growing number of refrigerated containers placed a heavy burden on the electrical system, which raised the cost price of refrigerated storage. Furthermore, the ships from Australia, Egypt, and the Philippines arrived quicker than normal, which in turn added pressure to the workload of harbor workers. The ships from Thailand and Chile, however, are right on schedule.
The import volumes of Egyptian oranges, Spanish oranges, Pakistani tangerines, Chilean grapes, and South African grapes have all increased in the last few weeks. Large volumes of durian and mangosteen from Southeast Asia are expected to enter the Chinese market next month. The production volumes of durian and mangosteen in Thailand increased by around 30% this production season. The port of Laem Chabang in Bangkok is expected to arrange more direct shipments with Thai fruit destined for Nansha port in Guangzhou.