China allowed the importation of 54 types of fruit from 42 different countries as of October 2018, and the country brought in a reported 3.6m tonnes of fruit from January to September.
Growth in China’s global trade activity has brought unique items, like tropical dragonfruit, avocado and fresh cherries, to inland cities who previously had little access to these fruits, especially in cold winter months.
Today, imported fruit from coastal ports like Guangzhou and Shanghai are effortlessly trucked inland to cities like Lanzhou and Xi’an at staggering rates.
Chen Lipen, a worker at a fruit market in Lanzhou told Xinhua it was uncommon to see tropical fruit in the market several years ago, and when it did appear the price was extremely high.
“Now, dragon fruit from Vietnam and Chilean cherries are very popular items in the winter," Chen said.
General manager of a Shaanxi-based importer, Zheng Yanqing said his company began bringing fruit by train in the 1980s, but could only bring a few dozen boxes at a time. Later he switched to chartered vehichles and in 2017 imported more than 160,000 tonnes of fruit.
"We've seen the soaring sales volume, value and the expanding market over the past years,” Zheng noted. “Tailored products, brands and high quality are the concerns of customers, which also promote the development of the fruit industry. We have also seen more varieties of fruit from more countries around the world," he added.
China’s bourgeoning ecommerce sector has also helped accelerate the country’s fruit sector. Shaanxi-based fruit grower, Wu Jian, said in 2016 it took at least one week before kiwifruit would arrive with his customers. Now, it takes only three to four days, sometimes even just one.
Wu said access to ecommerce helps him earn an additional US$3,000 each year.