China’s surprise ban on pineapple imports from Taiwan five months ago was widely viewed as an attempt to undermine President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) standing, but trade data show that the move has not produced the desired effect.
Council of Agriculture data show that growers of the fruit in Taiwan have fared better since China blocked imports on March 1, as Japanese have stepped in.
Shipments to Japan surged more than eightfold to 16,556 tonnes in the four months through June from a year earlier. A domestic campaign also helped.
The helping hand from Japan has come as a pleasant surprise for Taiwan’s growers, who were bracing for a plunge in prices following the move by China.
“The bleeding was stopped before it even began,” council official Chen Li-i (陳立儀) said.
Japan has now replaced China as the major overseas destination for Taiwan’s pineapples.
Pineapples are an important source of income for farmers in central and southern Taiwan. About 11 percent of the tropical fruit harvested in Taiwan are sold overseas.
“Export orders are looking unexpectedly good,” Harvest Consultancy Co chief executive Chiao Chun (焦鈞) said. “This really was a crisis turned into an opportunity.”
Besides the help from Japan, an increase in domestic demand fueled by a “save the farmers” campaign on social media rallied local shoppers in support of growers.
As a result, domestic prices of the fruit jumped 28 percent to an average of NT$22.1 per kilogram in the March-to-June period, a three-year high.
“Higher prices driven by strong domestic demand led to more profit for farmers,” Chen said.
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