Jackfruit finds its way to China

Fresh fruit export: Malaysian jackfruit for the Chinese market will be premium quality fruits.

PETALING JAYA: After 20 years of negotiations, the Malaysian jackfruit (nangka) is set to make landfall in China, says Deputy Agriculture and Food Security Minister Chan Foong Hin.

He said Malaysia signed the Fresh Jackfruit Export Agreement with China on April 1, opening up a new market.

He added that the first batch of jackfruit would arrive in China next weekend and would be showcased at the China-Asean Expo at Nanning from Sept 16 to 19.

China is one of the countries that enforce strict sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) conditions for imported agricultural products, he said, and Malaysia’s ability to secure this market signalled that the country was capable of meeting the requirements of bilateral export agreements.

Chan also said the Agriculture Department initiated the first export trial after signing the agreement, with his ministry responsible for registering jackfruit farms and processing facilities that have been approved by the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC).

“Before the authorities grant a registration, it is necessary to ensure that the farm and facilities meet all the conditions stipulated in the agreement, including pest and disease management on the farm, to prevent harmful biological infections in jackfruit.

“So far, eight processing facilities and seven orchards from Pahang, Johor, Melaka and Selangor have been submitted to the GACC for export approval,” he told The Star.

On July 12 and 13, the GACC inspected three processing facilities and three farms.

Chan said that Malaysian jackfruit for the Chinese market would be premium quality because competition among Asean countries is fierce, with neighbouring countries producing more fruits than Malaysia.

“Our country cannot compete on quantity due to our smallholder agriculture, so we emphasise quality,” he added.

Jackfruit exporter Francis Hong said Malaysian jackfruit orchards were all ratified with the Malaysia Good Agricultural Practice (MyGAP) certification, and the unique combination of weather and soil here provided an advantage.

He said the Malaysian jackfruit was also popular in European and Middle Eastern markets.

“Jackfruit is a perennial fruit with a stable production, and even expanding into more markets will not lead to domestic shortages or affect prices here.

“Jackfruit, unlike durian, is not a seasonal fruit but rather in oversupply, so the government needs to explore more markets,” he added.

Hong said the market positioning of Malaysian jackfruit in China should differ from jackfruit from other countries to gain a competitive edge.

He added that his first batch of jackfruit is ready to be exported and would be shipped soon.

It is expected to arrive in China next week.

The first export batch consists of one container with about 900 jackfruit.

Another exporter, Richard Thang, said Malaysian jackfruit in the Chinese market commanded higher prices compared with those from Thailand and Vietnam because the quality of the Malaysian fruit was better.

“It ripens on the tree, resulting in sweeter and better-tasting flesh.

“Malaysian jackfruit farmers have been striving to export to China since 2006, and the produce has finally been approved as fresh fruit export, not frozen export,” he added.

The Malaysian jackfruit that is exported to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France is also sold at higher prices compared with jackfruit from other countries.

It retails at £8 (RM46) per kg in the UK, with each fruit weighing an average of 10 to 15kg, making it very popular.

Thang also said the first batch exported from his orchard consisted of 500 jackfruit.

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