Following the banning of Taiwanese pineapples in mainland China, exports of the fruit to Hong Kong in March surged 135 times compared to February.
Only 13 tons of the fruit were shipped from the self-ruling island to Hong Kong in February, but after news of the mainland ban broke on March 1, shipments that month increased to 1,768 tons — worth US$2.17 million — as Hong Kong surpassed Japan’s 1,719 tons to become the biggest importer of Taiwanese pineapples. In total, 4,717 tons of the fruit were exported in March.
Despite this sharp increase, the export of Taiwanese pineapples dropped 60% when compared to the same period last year.
The owner of Hong Kong retailer Dr. Fruit told Apple Daily that he imported 150 tons of Taiwanese pineapples in March but has noticed a drop in demand since then. He was also concerned about price changes in April — the peak season for the fruit — and thus ordered 70% less than in March.
The popularity of the pineapples in March was one-off, and a drop in demand was expected, he said. But he believed that there would still be interest in the fruit and that import figures in the next few months would be higher than those from last year.
Taiwanese pineapples are highly regarded, but demand for Japanese fruits is still higher, he said. The ban was an opportunity to promote Taiwanese fruits and vegetables, he added.
Leung Tung-ki, owner of Bros Fruit, said prices for Taiwanese pineapples have dropped from up to HK$40 (US$5.15) to HK$15. There would also be more types of Taiwanese pineapples for Hongkongers to choose from, he said.
The Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department told Apple Daily that in March, the city imported 1,619 tons of pineapples from Taiwan and 819 tons from the Philippines. It did not provide relevant figures for mainland China.
According to Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture, 800 tons of pineapples were shipped to mainland China even though a ban was in place.
Many mainland residents have been eager to try Taiwanese pineapples. The Taiwan Trade Center in Shanghai launched a food festival with City’super, as Shanghai consumers had been asking when Taiwanese pineapples would be available, according to the supermarket chain.
Tsai Han-ming, the head of a Taiwanese association that promotes sales of agricultural products across the strait, said the season for pineapples would end by June, and the chances of exporting to Shanghai would be low.
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