In its push to support farmers and small businesses in Malaysia, Alibaba Group is helping local suppliers bring frozen whole Musang King durians to China through its platforms for the first time, the company said.
Chinese consumers on Tmall, Alibaba’s B2C online marketplace, and the New Retail-driven supermarket Freshippo will be among the first to purchase the durians, Alibaba said Tuesday in a release. The Musang King durians, known for their thick and creamy texture, are set to arrive during Alibaba’s 6.18 Shopping Festival, which runs June 1-18.
The announcement is the latest to come out of the Electronic World Trade Platform program. The private sector-led, multi-stakeholder initiative offers SMEs easier access to new markets via simple and straightforward regulations, as well as support in e-commerce, logistics, financing, cloud computing and mobile payments. First initiated by Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma in 2016, it has since been recognized by the G20, as well as adopted by China, Malaysia, Belgium and Rwanda.
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Sheng Cong, general manager of Freshippo Fresh Merchandising, said Alibaba’s push to support the sales, marketing and logistics of Musang King durians in China comes as the “latest example of [working] together to facilitate cross-border trade and empower Malaysian SMEs in their drive to find new markets.”
“It does not just highlight the convenient and inclusive nature of eWTP, but also has a real chance of helping to increase local agricultural exports and farmers’ income in Malaysia,” she added.
The good news for durian lovers comes after China’s customs authorities approved the import of Malaysian durians in “frozen whole fruit form” on May 30, as opposed to pulp, paste and other forms of processed durian currently available in the country. The development follows months of discussions between the two governments, as well as the installment of traceability and inspection programs in Malaysia to help local farmers meet China’s quarantine regulations – such as requiring the use of nets at durian orchards to prevent the fruit from making contact with the ground.
Alibaba has been supporting Malaysia’s efforts on to empower Malaysian SMEs and support global trade via talent development, on-boarding merchants to its platforms and rolling out promotional campaigns for Malaysian products, said Malaysian Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Sim Tze Tzin.
“In 2018, Malaysia produced over 350 million kilograms of durian but have only exported 5% out of that so far. Through this partnership, we are positive that the number of durians exported will grow exponentially. This has also resulted in many local orchards starting to invest to increase production of durians, a strong sign that many are recognising this as an opportunity to grow,” he said.
China’s appetite for the pungent fruit has been growing. According to figures from the United Nations Commodity Trade database, China in 2017 imported $552 million worth of durians, nearly eight times greater than the $71 million imported 10 years before. The majority of those were from Thailand. Only 1% were from Malaysia.