A delegation of 16 Philippine business enterprises will return to the 2023 edition of China International Import Expo (CIIE) for the 6th consecutive time with the theme “Share the love for Philippine flavors.” Anchored on the increasing popularity that Durian is enjoying in China, the delegation will put a spotlight on Philippine Durian as the country’s key feature along with other fresh produce and a diverse selection of uniquely Philippine-made food products. The largest import-themed trade fair in the world will be held on November 5-10 at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, China.
CIIE is a world-class expo that provides new channels for countries and regions to do business, strengthen cooperation, and promote common prosperity. It has three main parts particularly: the Country Pavilion, Enterprise and Business Fair for goods and services, and International Trade Forum. Similar to its previous editions since 2020, this year’s edition will be a mixture of onsite participation amplified by participants’ CIIE online account to ensure wider reach and better business engagement.
The hybrid participation by the country’s delegation under FOODPhilippines banner, which is spearheaded by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) – the export promotion arm of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry – aims to promote the Philippines as a top sourcing destination for premium food products. Working alongside CITEM are the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry – Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB), Philippine Trade and Investment Center – Shanghai (PTIC-Shanghai), Philippine Department of Agriculture – Office of the Agriculture Counselor in Beijing (DA-OAC Beijing), Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc., (PhilExport), and the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII).
Durian as a rising commodity in China
Over the past few years, Durian was catapulted to fame in China. It has gained increasing popularity among Chinese consumers turning the famed tropical fruit into a status symbol. This can be observed in Chinese weddings which are steeped in customary practices handed down through generations. For one, wedding guests would go the extra mile and show love for the newlyweds by providing the spouses with exquisite gifts. These gifts usually include food and other farm produce such as grapes, ham sausage, milk, and dried mushrooms – all of which symbolize wealth, abundance, and prosperity. Although in recent years, Durian has become the go-to present, putting all its rivals on the sidelines.
Despite its huge, thorn-covered husk and its putrid and pungent smell, Durian has been dubbed the “king of fruits” across Southeast Asia. This could be attributed to the polarizing experience one would go through after munching on the tropical fruit which boasts of its unique, creamy texture and custard flavor that is similar to an ice cream bar.
Durian hailed “king of fruits’, dethrones all other competitors
Accounting for 20% of global market consumption, China is the 3rd largest consumer of Durian across the world faring right behind Indonesia and the Philippines. In 2022, China imported 824,000 tons of fresh Durian which was valued at USD 4 billion. This was 4 times bigger than the volume imported in 2017 according to a report provided by the World Trade Organization.
Early this year, the Philippines forged partnership with China as Chinese President Xi and his counterpart Marcos Jr. signed 14 bilateral agreements covering investment in infrastructure and Durian import following the latter’s state visit to Beijing.
The Philippines is more than capable to tap this huge opportunity and address this demand. In 2021, the Philippines yielded more than 70,000 (73,867) metric tons of fresh Durian, with Davao Region as the top producer after covering 78% of the total Durian production. The country has a well-established Durian market in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hongkong, and South Korea.
“This huge Chinese market for fresh Durian and other related produce is seen as a great opportunity for the Philippines,” PTIC-Shanghai Commercial Counselor Glenn Peñaranda said.
“It’s been quite evident that Chinese consumers have developed this keen appetite for fresh Durian. With China being the Philippines’ largest trading partner, it’s only fitting that we seize this opportunity and put our best foot forward in providing aid to our local Durian farmers. Our longstanding trade partner is cradling a huge market waiting to be tapped,” he added.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) set a new milestone after the first batch of Philippine Durian was exported to China in April to May this year, shipping a total of 586 metric tons of fresh Durian which directly penetrated Huizhan market in Shanghai and Gaobeidian market in Hebei Province for the northern market, especially Beijing. This momentous trade deal is expected to generate USD 150 million worth of revenue according to the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).
“This is a significant progress that comes with vast economic potential. Following the export of fresh Durian along with other agricultural produce, we are given the opportunity to generate more exports to China and to also promote collaboration including investments in production and the value chain. That is why our participation in this year’s edition of CIIE can be likened to opening a treasure trove. Not only that it enhances bilateral trade relations between China and the Philippines but also forges stronger ties between the two countries,” Mr. Peñaranda explained.
According to Agriculture Counselor Ana GM B. Abejuela of the DA-OAC in Beijing, the Philippines’ homegrown Durian variety, which slightly edged out its competitors, took a warm reception from the Chinese consumers.
“Consumers who tasted the Philippine Durian, especially the golden Puyat, said that the taste is closer to Musang King, Malaysia’s Durian and the most expensive durian in China. Thus, having Philippine Durian at a much lower price than Musang King is a double delight for the Philippine Durian buyers and consumers. It tastes great at an affordable price,” AC Abejuela said.
The Philippine Pavilion, which is located at booth no. 1.1C3-01, will be housing an array of delectable fresh produce along with an innovative line up of processed food products. A combination of returning and neophyte exporters, 16 local business enterprises will be at the forefront to push the boundaries and put onto the table a diverse selection of fine-tasting agricultural produce which includes fresh Durian, Coconut and other related products, Mango, and Coffee among others. The country pavilion will, likewise, offer fun and healthy snacks such as Banana Chips, Dried Mangoes, Coconut Products and the like.
The participating exhibitors comprising the Philippine delegation are Century Pacific Agricultural Ventures, Inc.; Fisher Farms, Inc.; Lionheart Farms Philippines Corporation; Profood International Corporation; Republic Biscuit Corporation; Sam Lim Corporation; See’s International Food Mfg. Corporation; Avante-Agri Products Philippine, Inc.; Durian Industry Association of Davao City; Eng Seng Food Products; Eng Seng Group of Companies, Inc.; Excellent Quality Goods Supply Company; Gerb Golden Hands; Maylong Enterprises Corporation; Gacayan General Merchandise; and SQ Fresh Fruit Corporation.
The Philippine participation in CIIE 2023 is made possible through CITEM’s partnership with Philippine Airlines, the country’s official flag carrier.