“Through the cold chain transportation on the China-Laos Railway, we hope that more Chinese consumers can enjoy the fresh and delicious Thai durians just like Thai people,” said Orathai Euatrakool, a 67-year-old former plant import and export expert for Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
LAEM CHABANG/KUNMING, (Xinhua) — A “fruit train” carrying 23 containers of durian and mangosteen arrived in Kunming, capital of southwest China’s Yunnan province, on Wednesday, as Thai exporters increasingly turn to the China-Laos Railway for quick access to the Chinese market.
The train left Laem Chabang, Thailand’s major port, and was transshipped by the China-Laos Railway.
Orathai Euatrakool, a 67-year-old former plant import and export expert for Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, has observed the growth of durian exports in Thailand over the years.
“Previously, large numbers of durians were delivered to China mostly by road and sea, but these routes were highly unpredictable due to factors such as bad weather, sometimes taking more than 20 days to arrive,” Orathai told Xinhua as she saw off the departure of the train.
Currently, goods can reach Kunming in three days after being hauled by the China-Laos Railway from Thailand, where more mature durians will be exported. The more mature the durian, the better the taste.
“Through the cold chain transportation on the China-Laos Railway, we hope that more Chinese consumers can enjoy the fresh and delicious Thai durians just like Thai people,” said Orathai.
Natee Chuansanit, executive director of the Thailand Institute of Business Economics Research and Development, said, “China is currently Thailand’s most important durian export market.”
“We hope that more Chinese consumers will be able to sample better-tasting durians, thereby expanding the market for Thai durians,” she said.
According to data from the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand, China was the largest export market for Thai durians in 2022, accounting for more than 96 percent of the total export volume, valued at 3.09 billion U.S. dollars.
Thailand Royal Farm Group Co., Ltd. has been operating a durian export business in Chanthaburi Province, Thailand’s famous durian-producing location, for more than 16 years.
Weerisa Wanuruksakul, the company’s chief executive officer, said the ongoing increase of market demand in China has made the wholesale price of durian continue to rise, and the income from part-time packing jobs during the peak export season has become an important source of income for many locals.
The China-Laos Railway has opened up a new route for Thai durian exports and has alleviated prior issues of insufficient transportation capacity and the uncertainty of road and sea transport.
Kanokwan Suwankanit, director of freight service department of Thailand’s State Railway, said that the opening of the China-Laos Railway has promoted the development of Thailand’s railway freight, in which freight volumes have grown from 500-600 TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units) in 2019 to 2,000 TEUs in 2022, with further expansion expected to reach more than 3,000 TEUs in 2023.
After more than a year of trial operation, Thailand Speed Inter Transport Co. Ltd., which has been in the fruit export and transportation business for more than 20 years, decided to aggressively develop railway transportation.
“We purchased a number of freight cold chain containers equipped with GPS systems this year, which enabled remote real-time positioning and temperature monitoring, as well as timely delivery of logistics information to customers,” said Pan Jiaoling, chief operating officer of the company.
Fast and punctual railway transportation not only guarantees the quality of the durians but also reduces the company’s operating costs.
Fan Ligang, owner of Guangzhou Fanguoduo Trading Co. Ltd., who ordered the durians supplied via the China-Laos Railway, said his company plans to further expand the western markets of China, such as Chengdu and Guizhou.
Railway transport can also be consolidated in a flexible manner, making it suitable for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in both Thailand and China.
“The company’s e-commerce platform adopts a pre-sale system, and the number of orders changes frequently,” Chen Bin, sales director of Guangxi Xiannong International Trade Co. Ltd., said.
“By choosing railway transportation, we can deliver the goods in time according to the actual order,” Chen added.