Thailand’s durian diplomacy: Cracking the chinese market wide open

Photo courtesy of The Nation

Thailand is going all out to secure its crown in the lucrative Chinese durian market. The government has rolled out a series of innovative strategies, including high-tech farming enhancements and stringent quality controls, to ensure Thailand remains the top durian supplier to China.

Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Chai Wacharonke announced at a press conference that Thailand has significantly bolstered its quality control policies for fresh fruit exports, particularly durian.

“Legislation preventing the clandestine cutting and selling of unripe durian would enable both control and standardisation of Thai durian exports.”

He projected a dramatic surge in durian consumption, expecting it to increase 15-fold, reaching an impressive 15 million tonnes.

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“We hope that in the future, it will be able to significantly increase the export value of durians to reach up to 1 trillion baht.”

China’s insatiable appetite for durians has spurred not only Thai production but also fierce competition from other Southeast Asian nations like Vietnam and the Philippines.

In 2023, China imported 1.42 million tonnes of fresh durians, with Thailand supplying 65%, Vietnam 35%, and the Philippines less than 1%, according to the General Administration of Customs of China.

Despite these challenges, the Kasikorn Research Center predicts Thai durian exports to China will hit US$4.5 billion (approximately 165 billion baht) this year, a 12% increase from last year.

Thailand’s key durian-growing regions are turning to technology to improve fruit quality. Since last year, the Commercial Association for Sustainability of Agriculture in Thailand has collaborated with the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs to establish smart durian orchards in Chanthaburi province. Chinese scientists have installed advanced equipment for monitoring meteorological conditions, water levels, and soil moisture, enhancing scientific cultivation and fruit quality.

Additionally, the FECC has teamed up with Chinese e-commerce giants to develop online sales channels and livestream events, further tapping into the Chinese market.

Southern Thailand’s Chumphon province is also making strides by hosting festivals to boost the fruit’s brand exposure. At a recent durian festival, Provincial Governor Wisah Poolsirirat announced that the province will produce 250,000 tonnes of durian this year, generating over 33 billion baht for local farmers, reported The Nation.

“The expansion of durian planting area is mainly driven by the growing needs from major trading partner countries, of which 70% is attributed to China. We will further improve our durian quality and make it a top brand among Chinese customers.”

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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