Chinese consumers are buying more bananas from abroad than ever before thanks largely to the middle class's increasing health consciousness, which has helped to propel the fruit's popularity, says The Hindu Business Line.
Imports of bananas surged to a record 227,199 metric tons (MT) in May, according to China’s general administration of customs.
That helped raise total shipments of fruits and nuts to 720,000 MT, an almost 8-fold increase from the same period last year.
China is currently restrained by limited farmland and a destructive banana fungus known as the Panama disease, the publication notes. Thus, the nation has been becoming more reliant on supplies from Southeast Asia and South America.
Meanwhile, demand for bananas has grown with rising incomes and the increasing popularity of diets in China. Some of these promote using bananas in smoothies or eating banana chips as a healthy snack.
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.
Additionally, it expanded supplies from other producers such as Mexico and Cambodia.
Banana and other fresh fruit prices jump in China
China bought 1.54 million tons of bananas in 2018, a 50% surge from a year ago, customs data shows.
Yet with the bump in imports, there has also been a leap in prices for fresh fruit in the nation.
Fresh fruit prices were at a historical high in China last month. Apples are one example of a category that has especially become costly.
This situation triggered concerns over accelerating inflation, The Hindu Business Line points out.
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.