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Across China: Thailand durians delight Chinese gourmets

CHONGQING, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Of all imported fruits, durian has become one of the most popular fruits among Chinese customers in recent years.

Jiang Han, 26, who is based in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, said that she had a penchant for durians starting from 2019.

"The taste of durians just cannot be resisted. I found that the catering business in Chongqing also views durian as an eye-catcher for their products in recent years. Thus, not just fresh durians, there are a variety of durian byproducts emerging, such as cake, ice cream, pizza, and so on," said Jiang.

Almost all durian consumption in China depends on imports, mainly from Thailand. Data shows that the total export value of fresh durian from Thailand reached about 3.49 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, among which nearly 90 percent were sold to the Chinese market.

Pan Yun, one fruit shop owner in Chongqing, also witnessed this durian wave. "Before, we mainly sold dried durians. As more and more people grow a love for fresh durians, we also begin to replenish our stock from wholesale markets."

Pan added that while normally the period from April to July is the time for mass sales, some customers still asked if there is fresh durian on the market even in late November.

The Chongqing Hongjiu Fruit Co. Limited, the first listed fruit distributor, imported over 90,000 tonnes of durians in 2021, accounting for about 10 percent of the country's total durian imports.

In the first 10 months, the foreign trade volume of Chongqing reached 689.49 billion yuan (about 97.74 billion U.S. dollars), up 7.2 percent year on year from last year.

In terms of the durian trade, Thailand farmers are also beneficiaries, who have seen their lives leap forward.

Nattakrit Oranhiranrak, a farmer in Chanthaburi province, Thailand, said that before, durian sales deeply relied on local tourism and lacked of sales channels. After cooperating with Hongjiu Fruit in 2019, they now have stable market channels and favorable prices.

"Before, we managed 2,200 durian trees. Now, we have 4,000 durian trees and hire 14 people. When picking season comes, we sometimes even need 50 people a day to help us," said the 52-year-old man.

Hongjiu has replicated this cooperation pattern in dozens of orchards in Thailand and Vietnam, helping thousands of farmers enjoy a better life.