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China to ban Taiwan pineapples starting March 1

China is largest consumer of Taiwan’s exported pineapples, comprising 97% of total export volume in 2020

Minister of Council of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung

Minister of Council of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China announced on Friday (Feb. 26) the country would suspend the import of Taiwan’s pineapples starting March 1, citing “harmful organisms” found in the fruit.

China’s General Administration of Customs said harmful organisms had been found in Taiwanese pineapples on multiple occasions since 2020, including Planococcus minor (passionvine mealybug), Dysmicoccus neobrevipes (gray pineapple mealybug), and Melanaspis smiles. These bugs could pose a severe threat to China’s agriculture and environment, said Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) on Friday.

The announcement comes at a time when pineapple season in the south Taiwan areas of Pingtung, Kaohsiung, and Tainan, and other places, is readying 10 percent of the total harvest for exports. At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) criticized Beijing for its “unilateral decision,” which he called “unacceptable.”

The COA learned of China’s decision via a notice issued by its customs agency on Thursday. There had been no discussions between the two sides about the issue, said Chen, who blasted the Chinese authorities for not complying with global trade practices.

China is the biggest consumer of exported Taiwan’s pineapples, with sales to the country accounting for 97 percent of the total export volume in 2020. A total of 41,661 tons of Taiwan pineapples were exported to China in 2020, valued at approximately NT$1.5 billion.

The supposed bug problem can be solved by fumigation before the fruit products enter global markets, noted Chen. Taiwan’s pineapples are exported to 16 countries around the world, including Japan, where quarantine requirements are very strict, he stressed.

More than 5,500 batches of pineapples have been sold to China since pineapple exports began in January 2020. Among them, only 13 batches were found to have bugs, COA said. It added that all 600-plus batches of pineapples exported to China over the past four months had been approved.

The minister promised farmers the COA would make every effort to maintain the price of pineapples, adding the government will help farmers sell pineapples to other countries. Chen also encouraged Taiwanese consumers to show their support for local farmers by buying more pineapples.