Data from China Customs indicate that China’s durian imports in the first six months of this year reached a volume of 787,000 metric tons and a value of $3.83 billion, corresponding to year-on-year increases of 57.1% and 64.9%, respectively. It is worth noting that China’s total durian imports in 2022 were 825,000 metric tons and $4.04 billion, only slightly higher than the values registered for the first half of 2023, highlighting the rapid expansion of China’s durian market.

According to statistics from the World Trade Organization, China was the world’s largest importer and consumer of durians in 2022, accounting for a remarkable 82% share of global consumption. Alongside a limited amount of domestic production, China primarily sources its durians from Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, with Thailand accounting for the vast majority.

In the first half of 2023, Thai durians dominated the Chinese market with an export volume of around 600,000 metric tons, more than triple the volume originating from Vietnam. By contrast, durian exports from the Philippines to China during the same period were meager, totaling just 484 metric tons. In terms of prices, Thai durians commanded the highest price of 34.6 yuan ($4.77) per kilogram, while Vietnamese and Philippine durians peaked at 30.7 yuan ($4.23) and 26.7 yuan ($3.68) per kilogram, respectively.

The overall price of durians on the Chinese market in the first half of 2023 was 19.8% higher than that registered over the same period of 2022. This upward trajectory can be attributed to three key factors: an upswing in consumer enthusiasm for durians, various online sales and promotional campaigns, and market demand outpacing supply in the months leading up to peak harvest season in Thailand.

By the end of June, durian prices had begun to fall on account of greater supply from both southern Thailand and Vietnam. In addition, higher temperatures in China from mid-June resulted in a reduced shelf life for durians. Consequently, the latter half of June saw an abundance of durians on the Chinese market but their quality was inconsistent. Moreover, the hot and humid weather prompted many Chinese consumers to opt for fruits that are juicier in nature.

In 2021, China’s imports of Thai durians reached 822,000 metric tons and $4.25 billion, marking the highest volume in six years. However, in 2022, this decreased to 784,000 metric tons and $3.85 billion. That same year, China began importing durians from Vietnam, with the first-year volume and value reaching 41,000 metric tons and $188 million.

During the first six months of 2023, China imported 606,900 metric tons of durians from Thailand with a value of $3.03 billion, corresponding to year-on-year increases of 19.2% and 23.2%, respectively. Meanwhile, China’s durian imports from Vietnam reached 186,000 metric tons and $823 million. Currently, Thai durians continue to hold a strong position on the Chinese market, although the competition from Vietnamese durians is steadily intensifying.