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Strong rise in Thailand’s durian exports 

Strong rise in Thailand’s durian exports 

 

Despite the ongoing disruptions to global trade, Thailand’s durian exports rose by over a quarter increased by over a quarter in the first three months of 2020 to US$264 million, according to data published by Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce. The main market by far is China, with shipments up 90% to US$176m. Indeed, China now accounts for almost 67% of all Thailand’s durian exports.  Shipments to the US were also up 12% to US$2.1m. Meanwhile, the country’s exports to Asian neighbours Vietnam (-35%), Hong Kong (-11%) and Taiwan (-4%) all dropped, to US$47 million, US$42 million and US$839,400 respectively.

The remarkable growth in exports to China is largely the result of promotions conducted by Chinese retailers and the expansion of sales via online channels. 

 

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Source of durian’s stink identified

Source of durian’s stick identified

 

The mystery of what gives the prized but foul-smelling Asian fruit durian its characteristic odour has finally ended. Researchers at Munich Technical University discovered that a rare amino acid called ethionine is the cause of the stench. Previous studies had pointed to a chemical compound called ethanethiol, without explaining how it was being produced by the fruit. The new study, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, finds that, as a durian ripens, its ethionine content increases, releasing the smell.

This finding is potentially crucial for our health. The researchers say that it is important to know how much ethionine is in a durian as this amino acid could present health risks. Previous research has suggested that consuming large amounts of ethionine might cause liver damage and cancer, although this finding is still tentative and more research needs to be done. It appears that a very large amount of durian would need to be consumed before experiencing adverse health effects.

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Durian, mangosteen and longan: the kings of Thailand

The most popular fruits exported to China from Thailand are durians, called the ‘king of fruit’; mangosteens, the ‘queen’, and longans.

The most popular fruits exported to China from Thailand are durians, called the ‘king of fruit’; mangosteens, the ‘queen’, and longans.

“We have partner farmers and packing houses in various regions of Thailand, which is why we can ensure an almost year-round supply of fruit,” said Pakpum Bhagpabhakorn, director of PP Fruit, who participated in the China FVF expo in Beijing this year.

He explained that the longan season is from June to September in the north of the country, and from November to February in the east. The mangosteens are exported from April to September, while the durian is also available for 6 -7 months a year.

“Fruit from Thailand is highly appreciated all over the world,” Bhagpabhakorn said. “In the first place, our climate is very favourable for exotic fruit production. Also, we have been introducing modern technology and our farmers are very experienced. No wonder, then, that Thai fruit exports keep growing year in, year out.”

PP Fruit is part of the Thai fruit traders and exporters’ association, which promotes their premium fruit internationally. “Fruit export is our main business. We have long-term relationships with our clients from Hong Kong, Indonesia and other Asian countries; we began to export to China six years ago,” he said.

Image: Pixabay (CC0 Public Domain)