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Cambodia Mango Exports Down 20% in Q1 2022 Due to COVID-19 Outbreak in China

Dried Mango
Cambodia
COVID-19
Regulation / Agreement
Fresh Mango
China
Supply Yield / Stock Quantity
May 24, 2022
Written by
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Benjamin Lategan
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Cambodia exported 81,418mt of fresh mangoes In Q1 of 2022, a fall of more than 20% YoY. Vietnam was the main importer of fresh Cambodian mangoes in 2021 with 199,077mt, followed by Thailand at 38,419mt and China with 4,771mt. The resurgence of COVID-19 in China in mid-February 2022 led to long delays at ports of entry and intermittent border closures which negatively affected the direct export of mangoes to China and the indirect exports which are re-exported through Vietnam.

Cambodia exported 265,230mt of fresh mangoes and mango products in 2021, which represents a 146.3% YoY increase compared to 2020. Exports of fresh mangoes made up 242,484mt, dehydrated mango products were 17,880mt while mango syrup accounted for 4,866mt. Vietnam was the main importer of fresh Cambodian mangoes in 2021 with 199,077mt, followed by Thailand at 38,419mt and China with 4,771mt. China accounted for the most dried mango imports with 14,246mt while the Philippines bought the bulk of mango syrup at 4,698mt.

Cambodian mangoes gained direct market access to China in 2021 with the first shipment arriving in May last year. The direct access led to a success in 2021 exports, which saw China become the third largest market for fresh Cambodian mangoes and the largest market for dried mango products. Cambodia and China ratified a free trade agreement that came into force on 1 January 2022 with the expectation that Cambodian mango exports to China would increase dramatically in 2022. The agreement is expected to follow the same explosive growth trajectory that Cambodian bananas experienced after achieving clearance to enter the Chinese market. The annual mango export to China is expected to reach 500,000mt and become a rival to Vietnam in the Chinese market.

However, exports to China have stalled during the start of 2022 primarily due to China’s enforcement of its strict zero-COVID border control policies which have been especially disruptive to fruit suppliers in Southeast Asia that rely on overland shipping routes, such as Vietnam and Cambodia. Cambodia faces further challenges in developing fresh mango exports to China, such as a low capacity for heat treatment, limited cold chain infrastructure between orchards and processing facilities, and a lack of strong relationships with buyers in China. Cambodia also faces general competition from other countries within the region who also export mangoes to China such as Vietnam.

Cambodia relies more heavily on China for mango exports than official statistics suggest. Of Cambodia’s 265,230mt of fresh mangoes and mango products exported in 2021 almost 200 000mt were exported to Vietnam. An unknown quantity of the exports to Vietnam were then re-exported to China through gray channels. With the resurgence of COVID-19 in China in mid-February 2022, delays at ports of entry and intermittent border closures severely hamper Vietnamese mango exports which indirectly affects Cambodian exports.

In Q1 of 2022 from January until March, 81,418mt of fresh mangoes were exported, a fall of more than 20% YoY. Dried mango exports totalled 5,136mt, down by 13% while mango syrup came in at 403mt, a steep fall of 75%. With slowed exports to China, prices have started to plummet as general competition from growers in other countries within the region has increased leading to a high supply of mangoes with few willing buyers. In the face of low prices producers have stopped investing in the expensive inputs necessary to grow export-quality mangoes and induce off-season fruiting.

Cambodia is looking at alternative markets for mango exports such as South Korea and Europe. South Korea aims to import at least 10,000mt of mangoes from Cambodia annually to meet the needs of the Korean market. Korean exports will provide only a minor boost to Cambodian mango exports. To export to European markets mango growers must improve the quality of their produce according to the required sanitary and phytosanitary standards. The cultivation of off-season mango must also be carried out in accordance with modern techniques and Cambodia Good Agricultural Practices (CamGAP). If Cambodia cannot find alternative export markets for its mango crop, exports volumes will remain depressed in Q2 2022 accompanied by low prices. Although Chinese COVID-19 regulations have eased, it will take time to relieve all supply chain congestions. Thus, Cambodian exporters are encouraged to seek alternative markets such as South Korea and Europe to diversify exports and not be over reliant on the currently unpredictable Chinese market.

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