Traders eye domestic market amid export loss

Fruit traders are facing losses while exporting watermelons to China, prompting them to turn to the domestic market.
Transportation on rough roads affected the quality of the watermelons. Therefore, there is no chance to earn a higher price.
“The price for the 855-watermelon variety is unlikely to rise. Extreme weather and transportation on rough roads damaged watermelon’s quality. There are transport hurdles on the Kengtung, Mongla and Bhamo channels. Therefore, the traders started to eye the domestic market. The prevailing export price cannot cover transport and other general costs. The duty fee at the border post is 35,000-40,000 yuan per truck of watermelon,” traders elaborated.
The traders suggested that the suppliers observe market conditions depending on supply and demand factors.
“The quality loss leads to export loss. The transport hurdles, suspension at borders, and extreme weather on China’s side are contributing factors to the inferior quality. Another factor is the change in consumer behaviour owing to the economic crisis of the coronavirus pandemic,” said a trader.
Of 100 watermelon trucks heading to China, only ten can cover the freight cost. The traders struggled with two to three-digit losses.
At present, watermelons and muskmelons are mostly delivered to China through the Lweje and Mongla road channels.
Myanmar’s watermelon is primarily exported to China. However, fruit traders emphasized that they are facing prolonged challenges amid the policy changes in China.
In early February last year, tight inspections by Chinese Customs hindered truck transport. That is why only 20-30 trucks were able to pass the checkpoint despite high demand.
Consequently, watermelon was sold out at the depots on the Chinese side, and more than 500 trucks queued in line on the Myanmar side.
In 2021, the COVID-19 restrictions hindered Myanmar’s watermelon and muskmelon exports to China. Chinese Customs Regulation increased delay. Long delays of trucks caused harm to watermelon quality, and only one in five trucks heading to China remained undamaged with quality watermelons.
The traders need to consider delivery time, price and profitability, as watermelon is a perishable fruit while trying to explore new markets beyond China. — NN/EM

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