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Durian is Thailand's most valuable export, surpassing rice and rubber
ECONOMY Thailand

Durian is Thailand's most valuable export, surpassing rice and rubber

According to the Centre's irector, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Att Pisarnvanich, Thailand is likely to retain its position as the world's leading durian exporter in the next five years, but its export market share may shrink from 85% to 76% due to stiff competition from both Vietnam and Malaysia.

Thai durian, he said, still has good export potential, particularly to China, which is the main export market for Thai durian, but it may face new challenges, such as quality, increased production, labor shortages, and price controls imposed by Chinese wholesale buyers in Thailand.

According to Sanchai Puranachaikhiri, President of the Thai Fresh Fruit Traders and Exporters Association, increased transportation costs pose a new challenge.

He revealed that the shipping rate for one cargo container has recently risen from US$2,300 to around US$9,000, and the land transport rate for each container has risen from 80,000 baht to 250,000 baht.

Based on the price at Guangzhou's Jiangnan fruit and vegetable wholesale market, which is China's largest market of its kind, the price of Thai durian sold to China between now and 2026 is likely to increase to around 417 baht/kg for the Mon Thong strains if China imports more than 15% of Thailand's output. According to the UTCC center, ex-farm prices are expected to rise from 121 baht/kg this year to 149 baht/kg in the next five years.

Due to the low cost of durian, many farmers in Thailand's north-eastern provinces have switched from other crops to durian in the last ten years, with land dedicated to durian cultivation increasing sixfold since 2011. Approximately 80% of farmers in Thailand's eastern region have cleared their land of rubber trees and replaced them with durian, resulting in a fivefold increase in durian output.

According to the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, durian exports to China from the eastern region alone totaled 433,809 tonnes between February and June 5th this year, up from 425,000 tonnes in the same period last year.

Only in Chanthaburi province has 91% of this year's crop been harvested, with 87% exported.



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