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China Is Going Bananas for Bananas

Alfred Cang
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China Is Going Bananas for Bananas

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese consumers are buying more bananas from abroad than ever before as an increasingly health conscious middle class help propel the fruit’s popularity.Imports of bananas surged to a record 227,199 tons in May, according to China’s general administration of customs. That helped lift total shipments of fruits and nuts to 720,000 tons, an almost 8-fold increase from the same period last year.Restrained by limited farmland and a destructive banana fungus known as the Panama disease, China has been increasing its reliance on supplies from Southeast Asia and South America. Demand for bananas is being encouraged by rising incomes and the increasing popularity of diets in China, including for use in smoothies and as banana chips.China overtook Japan as the biggest foreign market for bananas from the Philippines last year, according to Xinhua News Agency. The country procured more than two-thirds of exports from the Southeast Asian country in 2018 while also expanding supplies from other producers such as Mexico and Cambodia. China bought 1.54 million tons of bananas in 2018, a 50% surge from a year ago, customs data shows.Fresh fruit prices were at a historical high in China last month, triggering concerns over accelerating inflation. Fruit and nut imports had surged to a record in April amid rising local prices.That momentum could subside in summer as supplies increase, according to Lu Ting, chief China economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Hong Kong. Imports will likely become the biggest factor for the direction of domestic prices, according to a Xinhua report in May, citing research from its think-tank unit.To contact the reporter on this story: Alfred Cang in Singapore at acang@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anna Kitanaka at akitanaka@bloomberg.net, Jason RogersFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese consumers are buying more bananas from abroad than ever before as an increasingly health conscious middle class help propel the fruit’s popularity.

Imports of bananas surged to a record 227,199 tons in May, according to China’s general administration of customs. That helped lift total shipments of fruits and nuts to 720,000 tons, an almost 8-fold increase from the same period last year.

Restrained by limited farmland and a destructive banana fungus known as the Panama disease, China has been increasing its reliance on supplies from Southeast Asia and South America. Demand for bananas is being encouraged by rising incomes and the increasing popularity of diets in China, including for use in smoothies and as banana chips.

China overtook Japan as the biggest foreign market for bananas from the Philippines last year, according to Xinhua News Agency. The country procured more than two-thirds of exports from the Southeast Asian country in 2018 while also expanding supplies from other producers such as Mexico and Cambodia. China bought 1.54 million tons of bananas in 2018, a 50% surge from a year ago, customs data shows.

Fresh fruit prices were at a historical high in China last month, triggering concerns over accelerating inflation. Fruit and nut imports had surged to a record in April amid rising local prices.

That momentum could subside in summer as supplies increase, according to Lu Ting, chief China economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Hong Kong. Imports will likely become the biggest factor for the direction of domestic prices, according to a Xinhua report in May, citing research from its think-tank unit.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alfred Cang in Singapore at acang@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anna Kitanaka at akitanaka@bloomberg.net, Jason Rogers

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.