According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Chinese market demand for Thai durian remains as strong as ever. Even the outbreak of COVID-19 did not diminish durian demand. Large numbers of Chinese traders are competing to pre-order Thai durian in an attempt to avoid the impact of the pandemic on durian supply.
Every year, a great number of Chinese traders arrive in Thailand on the eve of the durian harvest season. They purchase their durian directly from the plantation. This year Chinese traders arrived early in March to pre-order the unripe durian and return home before the airports were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the Thai economy suffered from the outbreak of COVID-19, Chinese traders purchased Thai durian as before. Most Thai durian producers have already received orders for their entire harvest. Furthermore, the Thai durian harvest season neatly coincides with the time when China began to loosen quarantine measures. This allowed Thai durian farmers to deliver the durian that were ordered earlier in the season.
The wholesale price of Thai durian was around 80-90 Thai baht [2.50-2.81 USD] per kg last year. However, the durian plantations in Thailand experienced severe drought during the growth season and early in the harvest season, which greatly reduced the overall supply volume. The price therefore increased. The current wholesale price is around 105-115 Thai baht [3.28-3.59 USD] per kg. In March, when the harvest season just started, the wholesale price even reached as high as 150 Thai baht [4.68 USD] per kg.
The Thai Department of Commerce encourages durian export to China to increase the income from foreign currency exchange. Thailand produced 600 thousand tons of durian in 2018. The majority of this durian was exported and around 70% of the export volume was destined for China. The export of fruit accounted for nearly 6.5% of Thai export in 2019.