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Durian has been gaining popularity in China. Photo: Shutterstock

Philippines feeds China’s durian desire with imports from Duterte’s Davao city

  • ‘High-quality fresh durian’ will soon be available in China, where the fruit is enjoying increasing popularity
  • Durian imports expected to benefit fruit farmers in the Philippines, win hearts in China as both countries enter ‘golden age of bilateral relations’

Chinese durian lovers have for years been spoilt for choice, with various cultivars of the fruit from Malaysia’s Musang King to less luxurious Thai versions all on offer in the mainland.

Soon, they will also be able to savour durians from Davao, the hometown of former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said durians from the Philippines had been given the green light for import into China.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) eats durian with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during a visit to Davao City in 2017. Photo: AFP
“Fresh durian from the Philippines will soon be available in the Chinese market, according to the results of an assessment conducted by a team of experts organised by the Chinese embassy recently,” he said.

The pungent fruit is likely to be permitted for export into China from Davao city on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao sometime later this year.

The ambassador added that the import of “high-quality fresh durian” from the Philippines into China” would benefit hundreds of thousands of fruit farmers in the Southeast Asian country while also winning the hearts of Chinese durian lovers.

The Davao region contributes 78 per cent of the Philippines’ durian production, half of which comes from Davao City, according to Abel James I. Monteagudo, regional director of the Department of Agriculture.

A Filipino farmer unripe durian fruits at a farm in southern Mindanao island. File photo: AFP
News of the durian imports comes as China and Philippines agreed to enter a “ golden age of bilateral relations” after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jnr on July 6, 2022, as part of Wang’s Southeast Asian tour.
Also known as the “king of fruit”, durian has grown increasingly popular in the Chinese market in the past few years, becoming the country’s top fruit import.

Thailand is the largest exporter of fresh durians to China, followed by other Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia and Vietnam.

The fruit has offered a way for China to boost ties with countries in Southeast Asia as Beijing has pledged to import more durians from its neighbours in an effort to cement its ties with the strategically important region amid its intensifying rivalry with the United States.

China turns to durian diplomacy to boost ties with Southeast Asia

Last year, China imported some 821,600 tonnes of fresh durian with an estimated value of US$4.2 billion, according to Chinese customs data.

Durian has primarily gained popularity in southern and eastern regions of China, in part because of its high nutritional value but also because of great demand for its derivatives, such as ice cream, cakes, snacks and dumplings.

Last year, the Philippines exported its first shipment of frozen durian from Davao City to Australia, containing two varieties of durian called Puyat and Duyaya.

Puyat is “sweet with a hint of bitterness” while Duyaya has a fleshy quality, according to Thanh Truong, director of Melbourne-based importer Aus Asia Produce Pty Ltd.

Additional reporting by Agencies