Durian finds ready buyers on Alibaba

Durian finds ready buyers on Alibaba

Alibaba Group's partnership with the Thai government aims to continue to drive overseas growth for Thailand's farmers.

Alibaba's Thai durian promotion on its Tmall platform resulted in more than 130,000 Thai durians pre-sold to Chinese consumers, including more than 80,000 Monthong durians in the sale's opening minute.

Under the terms of the partnership with the government, Alibaba Group has pledged to jointly promote the sale of 3 billion yuan (15 billion baht) worth of durian over the next three years, in addition to other Thai exports.

The durian pre-sale at Tmall took place over three days, starting on April 17, to offer premium quality Monthong and Poungmanee durians in sets of two.

The durians will be shipped from the source into China within 120 hours and delivered to consumers across the country within 24 hours, through Alibaba's Cainiao Network logistics platform.

Rice sales will also be bolstered by this partnership after the launch of Tmall's Official Thai Rice Flagship Store on April 19.

The launch is to be followed by the Tmall-supported distribution of Thai rice across multiple channels, including innovative and convenient vending machines available at some RT-Mart supermarket stores in China.

Tmall will also advise merchants on the preferences of Chinese consumers, as they seek to build upon the success of Thai rice on the platform, which saw total Thai rice sales more than double year-on-year in 2017.

"The durian pre-sale promotion is the first step in our continued commitment to support Thailand's agriculture industry," said Zhu Xia, Tmall Fresh senior director.

This promotion is part of a project under the Commerce Ministry's Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), including durian suppliers recommended by the DITP.

Demand for imported, high-quality goods across various industries continues to rise in China, said Alibaba.

"We carefully sort durians by their quality before shipping them overseas, considering factors such as shell colour, weight, and ripeness," said Charin Sirikarn, owner of fruit trade centre Super Fruit Thailand.

"By shipping durians that are 70-80% ripe, they will arrive in China fully ripe and ready for consumption."

The process for sorting high-quality durian requires skilled employees with at least five years experience who understand the entire process, from soil quality management and cultivation, to harvesting and transport.

"Increased demand from China will have a positive impact on our business across the board, with higher sale volumes and new job opportunities opening up to accommodate the growing market," said Mr Charin.

"It takes great care to make great durian," said Boonruang Prathum, owner of a durian plantation in Chanthaburi province.

"The entire process takes around 120 days."

The partnership with Alibaba offers Thai businesses an opportunity to sell products to China with minimal additional investment, said Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong.

"We want to increase the value of durians and other agricultural products from Thailand in the global market, which should ultimately lead to a better life for both our farmers as well as entrepreneurs," said Mr Sontirat.

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