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Hong Kong imports of Taiwan pineapples surge 136-fold after China's ban

Hong Kong surpassed Japan as biggest importer of Taiwanese pineapples in March

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Taiwan-grown pineapples. 

Taiwan-grown pineapples.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Although China banned Taiwanese pineapples in March, Hong Kong imports of the fruit soared 136-fold, surpassing Japan as the largest importer for the month.

On Feb. 26, Beijing banned all imports of Taiwanese pineapples, alleging that “harmful organisms” had been found in the fruit. According to the Council of Agriculture (COA), 97 percent of exported pineapples went to China in 2020.

The move prompted Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to launch a "Freedom Pineapple" campaign on Twitter. By March 2, Taiwanese farmers had received pre-orders for 41,687 tons of pineapples from companies, e-commerce platforms, and consumers — exceeding the annual quantity of exports to China.

That same day the COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) announced that Taiwan would work to develop new overseas markets, including Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia. Just two days later, Chen announced that Japan had pre-ordered 6,200 tons of pineapples, setting a new record for pineapple exports to Japan.

The COA website shows Japan imported 1,719 tons of pineapples in March alone. As impressive as those numbers are, Hong Kong imported even more: 1,768 tons, with a value of US$2.17 million.

This was 136 times more than the 13 tons of pineapples purchased by Hong Kong in February. It was also 22 times more than the 80 tons imported by the territory from Taiwan in the same month last year.

Ironically, in third place for the month of March was China at 810 tons, despite the ban. In fourth place was Singapore at 239 tons, followed by Canada (67 tons), South Korea (52 tons), Thailand (34 tons), Malaysia (13 tons), and the U.S. (11 tons), with Australia and Germany tied for 10th at two tons each.