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Vietnam Overtakes Thailand in Durian Exports to China: A Fruity Showdown for Market Dominance

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In a turn of events that could easily be the plot of an international food saga, Vietnam has spectacularly stolen the durian crown right from under Thailand’s nose in the Chinese market. The latest buzz from the Vietnamese newspaper Dan Viet reveals that Vietnam’s grip on the Chinese durian market has tightened, boasting a market share increase to 57% in January and February, up from a mere 32% last year. Imagine, for a moment, the humble durian — a fruit so divisive in its aroma that it’s banned on public transport across Southeast Asia — now sitting at the heart of an agricultural showdown.

But let’s talk numbers, because in the world of durians, it’s not just about the scent; it’s about the cents too. China imported a whopping 53,110 tons of durians, valued at an astronomical US$283.6 million (or 10.41 billion baht), in just the first two months of this year. Thailand, once the undisputed king of durian exports to China, has now been relegated to second place, with 19,016 tons worth $120.3 million (or 4.41 billion baht). It’s like watching a royal drama unfold, but with fruits instead of crowns and scepters.

The secret to Vietnam’s ascension? Timing and price. Dan Viet highlights that Vietnam can harvest durians all year round, especially during the off-season for Thai durians. This is akin to having a year-long supply of your favorite seasonal drink — a dream come true for durian aficionados. Not only that, but the price point of Vietnam’s durian is as enticing as the fruit itself, pegged at US$4.916 (or 180.75 baht) per tonne, undercutting Thailand’s $6.133 (or 225.21 baht) per tonne. Proximity to China also plays to Vietnam’s advantage, allowing for exports to be conducted with the speed of a durian falling from a tree.

The story took a twist last December when the Thai Department of International Trade Promotion confirmed what many had suspected: Vietnam had dethroned Thailand as the main durian exporter to China as of September. Within the span of a single month, in October, China imported 120,000 tons of durians, marking a jaw-dropping increase of 100,000 tons year on year. The shift was clear — China’s appetite for Vietnamese durians was growing, while Thailand was left peeling back layers to figure out what went wrong.

The tale of durians is not just a story of fruit; it’s a saga of strategy and seasonal timing. Vietnam, only permitted to export fresh durians to China, could see an even more significant increase in exports if frozen durians were on the menu. The cautionary note from the Thai Department of International Trade Promotion suggests a chilly forecast for Thailand’s durian market unless strategic measures are taken.

The durian drama continues to unfold as both nations strive to dominate the Chinese market. With stakes this high and flavors so intense, the saga of the durian offers a ripe narrative of strategy, competition, and the undeniable allure of the “king of fruits.” So, next time you catch a whiff of that unmistakable durian aroma, remember: beneath that spiky exterior lies a fruit that’s not only a delicacy but also a heavyweight contender in the international market.


  1. DurianLover101 April 7, 2024

    Honestly, Vietnam taking over isn’t surprising. Their durians have been underrated for years. The consistent quality and all-year availability make them superior. Thailand really needs to step up their game.

    • ThailandForLife April 7, 2024

      I disagree. Thailand’s durians have a unique taste that Vietnam’s just can’t match. It’s not just about quantity; it’s about the quality and the flavor profile unique to Thai durians.

      • FoodieExpert April 7, 2024

        Both of you have points, but let’s not forget that taste is subjective. What matters more here is how both countries can maintain sustainable practices while meeting demand. Overproduction could harm the environment.

    • DurianLover101 April 7, 2024

      Fair point on the sustainability, FoodieExpert. My concern though, isn’t just about the immediate taste or quantity, but the long-term effects of this competition on the durian market and the farmers.

  2. MarketAnalyzer April 7, 2024

    This shift in durian market shares is a fascinating example of how supply chain dynamics, pricing, and seasonal availability can impact international trade. Vietnam’s strategic move to capitalize on off-season gaps and more competitive pricing is a classic undercutting strategy.

  3. EcoWarrior April 7, 2024

    It’s troubling to think about the environmental impact all this durian farming is having. Increased demand means more land and water are being used, not to mention pesticides. We need to consider the ecological cost of our fruit consumption.

    • AgriStudent April 7, 2024

      But isn’t it possible to cultivate durians in a more sustainable way? I believe with the right agricultural practices, we can mitigate the environmental impact. It’s all about finding balance.

      • EcoWarrior April 7, 2024

        Hope so, AgriStudent. It’s just that historically, scaling up often leads to corner-cutting, especially environmentally. Both Vietnam and Thailand should indeed pursue sustainability, but it requires policies and incentives from the government too.

  4. JaneDoe April 7, 2024

    I’ve never tried durian, but this whole saga makes me want to! It sounds like the fruit equivalent of a blockbuster movie. Is the taste really that divisive?

    • CuriousCat April 7, 2024

      Literally JaneDoe! I’m in the same boat. I keep hearing about it, and now this ‘fruit war’ has me intrigued. Maybe it’s time for a taste test.

    • DurianConnoisseur April 7, 2024

      JaneDoe and CuriousCat, if you do try, be prepared! It’s an acquired taste for sure. Some love it at first bite; others can’t get past the smell. But it’s definitely worth trying at least once.

      • JaneDoe April 7, 2024

        Thanks, DurianConnoisseur! I’m nervous but excited. Hopefully, I’ll end up on the side that loves it. Any recommendations for a ‘first-timer’?

  5. GlobalTradeWatch April 7, 2024

    What many are missing here is how these agricultural shifts affect global trade dynamics. Vietnam’s ascendancy in the durian market might lead to Thailand diversifying its agricultural exports, which could be a good thing. Diversification strengthens economies.

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