Quality vs quantity

Competition in exporting durian to China is rising between long-time player Thailand and newbies Vietnam and the Philippines as the world’s largest market for the fruit reopens after Covid.

Quality vs quantity

Though it took four years for Vietnam to negotiate the durian trade protocol with China, it has lots to do to strengthen its farming and distribution to meet the latter’s quality requirements.

“Our exports need to meet Chinese consumers’ standards and we need to respect their desires and regulations,” To Ngoc Son, deputy head of the Asia and Africa division at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said.

“That is how we can ensure a sustainable export channel to this market.”

However, quality does not seem to be the top priority for Vietnamese farmers, who are instead seeking to increase export volumes by growing more.

In the last three years the area under durian in Tien Giang Province has expanded by 21% to 17,600 ha. Neighboring localities such as Can Tho City and Hau Giang Province have been witnessing a similar trend, with thousands of hectares added in recent years.

Farmers say durian prices have tripled in Tien Giang since the end of 2021 to VND75,000 per kilogram now.

Durian is said to be the most profitable export fruit fetching VND1-2 billion per hectare, higher than other popular items such as dragon fruit and green skin pomelo.

As farmers chop down coffee, pepper and rice crops to farm durian despite warnings that unsuitable soil would hit yields and quality, the agriculture ministry has recently issued a warning to slow down the expansion.

“The reckless surge in durian farming could lead to oversupply,” it said in a statement targeted at farmers in the south and Central Highlands.

It also called on local authorities to make plans to cope with the loss of rice paddies and apprise farmers about which areas are suitable for growing durian.

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