TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In response to China's ban on imports of Taiwan-grown pineapples, Taiwan has found a welcome market for the tropical fruits in Japan, which has already pre-ordered over 6,000 metric tons, shattering previous records.
During an interview on the radio station Super FM98.5, Council of Agriculture minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) on Thursday (March 4) said that Japan has pre-ordered over 5,000 tons of Taiwan-grown pineapples, In addition, a Japanese multinational distributor has placed a pre-order for 1,200 tons, bringing the total to 6,200 tons, which Chen said set a new record for pineapple exports to Japan.
Wu Ching-lu (吳清綠), honorary chairman of the Taiwan Vegetables and Fruits Exporters Association (TVFEA), was cited by Liberty Times as saying that Japan currently imports about 15 percent of the pineapples it consumes, or about 157,000 tons. Wu said that this is a market worth developing, but competition from the Philippines is a challenge as the majority of its pineapple imports come from the archipelagic country.
He said that Taiwan had struggled to secure large orders in the past because of an unstable supply, which affected the willingness of Japanese buyers to commit to large purchases. Wu recommended that Taiwan "strike while the iron is hot" and set up a special fruit export zone with Japan.
The honorary chairman suggested that farmers and trading companies could be integrated into the trading area and the government could help promote it. Wu said that if Taiwan can secure 20 percent of Japan's pineapple market, it would completely compensate for the lost business from China.
Taiwan pineapples being sold in Japanese market. (Taiwan Trace Center, Tokyo photo)
On March 3, the Fuji News Network (FNN) ran a story with the headline, "Let's Eat Taiwan Pineapples," which featured an interview with Japanese journalist Kadota Ryusho. In response to the Chinese ban on Taiwan pineapples, Kadota urged Japanese not to forget Taiwan's assistance provided after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and to support Taiwan by buying more pineapples.
Japanese netizens also spoke out in support of Taiwan pineapples with comments such as: "The CCP’s ban on Taiwan pineapples just proves that Taiwan pineapples are of good quality. If the CCP doesn’t buy them, we Japanese will buy them. I bought some immediately and am eating them."
Currently, the Japanese supermarket chains carrying Taiwan pineapples include LOPIA (Kanagawa and Chiba), BELX (Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Chiba), Tsuruya (Nagano and Gunma), and IZUMI (Hiroshima), while Seiyu Group supermarkets will begin selling them on Sunday (March 7), according to Rti.
Last Friday (Feb. 26), Beijing announced it would ban all imports of Taiwan 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 Taiwan 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.