TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In response to China's ban on imports of Taiwan-grown pineapples, Taiwanese businesses and citizens made up for the potential shortfall in sales by buying an entire year's worth of the tropical fruit in just four days.
On Friday (Feb. 26), Beijing announced it would ban all imports of Taiwanese pineapples, alleging that “harmful organisms” had been found in the fruit. Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) chastised China for its “unilateral decision,” which he deemed “unacceptable.”
According to the COA, 97 percent of exported pineapples went to China in 2020. Last year, Taiwan exported 41,661 metric tons of the fruit to China, worth approximately NT$1.5 billion (US$53.9 million).
The move prompted Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) on Friday to launch a "Freedom Pineapple" campaign on Twitter. That same day, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also took to Twitter, calling on the public to buy Taiwanese pineapples and writing that like with Australian wine, "China's unfair trade practices" were targeting Taiwan's pineapples, despite the fact that 99.79 percent of imported batches had passed inspection.
On Tuesday (March 2), Chen announced that as of noon, Taiwanese farmers had received pre-orders for 41,687 tons of pineapples from companies, e-commerce platforms, and consumers, already exceeding the annual quantity of exports to China, reported Newtalk. Of this quantity, over 180 companies ordered 7,187 tons of pineapples, 19 firms ordered 15,000 tons of processed pineapples, 14 beverage shops ordered 4,500 tons of the fruit, wholesalers and street market vendors ordered 10,000 tons, and exporters and overseas groups ordered 5,000 tons, according to the COA.
Chen said that given China's ban, Taiwan will work to develop new overseas markets, including Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia. Despite the impact of the pandemic, Chen said that pineapple exports to New Southbound nations increased 110-fold last year.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Tsai condemned China for its "ambush-like, unilateral notice that it would ban imports of Taiwan pineapples." She pledged that the government would allocate NT$1 billion to ameliorate the impact of the import ban and work to export 30,000 tons of pineapples to the U.S., Japan, Singapore, and other international markets.
China's ban went into effect just as Taiwan's pineapple season was getting underway in Pingtung County, which accounts for 30 percent of the country's production. In the rest of southern Taiwan, harvesting will run from March through June.