Philippine Durian Faces Challenges but Sees Opportunity in Chinese Market
Officials have stated that the Philippine durian has a “very big” opportunity in the Chinese market, but there are numerous challenges to overcome. Ana Gracia Maria B. Abejuela, Agriculture Counsellor to Beijing, expressed this sentiment during an online press briefing at the 6th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai. The Philippines showcased its durian variety “Puyat” at the national pavilion to expand its market and attract more buyers in China.
China, which consumes 20% of the global durian market, is the world’s third-largest durian consumer. In 2022, the country imported 824,000 tons of fresh durian worth $4 billion, with Thailand dominating the market share at 95%. However, the Philippines has seen an increase in its durian exports to China since the two countries signed an agreement last January, allowing the Philippines to export its durians to China. In April, the Philippines successfully shipped its first batch of durians weighing 28,000 kilos, followed by additional shipments by air freight and sea vessel.
Emmanuel Belviz, President of the Durian Industry Association of Davao City (DIADC), stated that the Philippines exported about 2,300 metric tons of durian last year, and this year, the country’s global export of fresh and frozen durian is estimated to be around 6,000 metric tons. In the first half of this year, China imported 484,471 kilograms of durian from the Philippines, valued at approximately $1.9 million, according to the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) data.
However, there are challenges to overcome in the market. Abejuela emphasized that maintaining the volume and quality of the durian is crucial. While visiting one of the largest wholesale markets in China, Abejuela found that the price was not an issue for Chinese consumers as long as the product was fresh and of high quality. Belviz acknowledged that the Philippines is still far behind Thailand and Vietnam in terms of durian exports to China.
To address these challenges, officials are working on increasing the production capacity of local farmers by encouraging them to be more entrepreneurial. The Department of Agriculture (DA) plans to create a 4,000-hectare expansion next year and distribute agricultural materials and the Puyat variety of durian to local farmers. The DA also aims to improve production practices among durian growers in the Davao region, where the majority of durian production is concentrated.
Ceferino S. Rodolfo, Undersecretary of the DTI, stressed the importance of having a durian association to support and connect local durian growers with government interventions. The government has already provided farming trucks to low-mechanized farmers, improving their transport and delivery systems. Rodolfo emphasized the need to promote the Philippine brand and focus on the sustainability of producing high-quality durian products to dominate the market in the future.