Cambodian exports of fresh mangoes in the first seven months of 2022 registered a drop of over one-quarter on a yearly basis, driven by a lack of cold-storage facilities and tightened border entry controls in China over reports of novel coronavirus discovery on produce packaging.

From January to July, fresh mango exports logged a 26.84 per cent year-on-year drop to 117,951.55 tonnes, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA).

Vietnam bought the lion’s share at 62,640.23 tonnes or 53.11 per cent, followed by Thailand (27,681.12 tonnes), mainland China (27,467.88 tonnes), South Korea (160.08 tonnes) and Hong Kong (2.24 tonnes).

At the same time, dried mango exports over the period weighed in at 13,224.41 tonnes, down 2.22 per cent, and were shipped to mainland China (11,573.37 tonnes), Thailand (836.02 tonnes), the Philippines (499.96 tonnes) and Vietnam (200 tonnes), Russia (45.58 tonnes), the UK (9.78 tonnes), Italy (6.30 tonnes), South Korea (4.99 tonnes) and the US (0.03 tonnes).

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon shared there had been decreases across the exports of fresh agricultural products over the seven-month period, especially for mangoes and bananas, and those bound for China.

He ascribed these reductions to a rise in costs for cold-storage, fuelled by a lack of facilities, as well as stricter controls at China’s entry ports intended to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“[Moreover,] the tougher sanitary and phytosanitary conditions brought on by Chinese customs authorities’ discovery of the Covid-19 coronavirus on banana packaging has forced some companies to shelve exports for a while,” Sakhon said.

The minister added that Taiwan-related tensions have had no significant effect on exports to China, a claim that was echoed by Rich Farm Asia Ltd CEO Hun Lak.

Lak said transportation costs have moderated a bit in the second half, as Beijing seemingly eases back its lockdown policies to some extent.

He claimed that the Chinese government would launch a new policy expected to involve economic reopening in November – the month sources say the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will be held, in which President Xi Jinping is anticipated to secure an unprecedented third term.

“I believe that by the end of the year there will be an improvement in agricultural exports, not only to China, but also to neighbouring countries. But what matters is that we have to be prepared, and have a cleaning and packaging system that meets the desired standards,” Lak said.

The ministry reported that last year, the export of mango and products thereof totalled 265,229.76 tonnes. Fresh mangoes accounted for 242,483.76 tonnes or 91.42 per cent, representing a 148.38 per cent surge versus 2020.