Chinese consumers ordered 80,000 durians the minute a new online promotion went live as part of a Chinese-Thai initiative to help sell Thiland’s local produce via the internet.
In a deal struck Thursday by Chinese and Thai officials, the two governments will work with e-commerce giant Alibaba Group to drive the development of Thailand’s digital economy. Under the agreement, agencies of the Thai government and business units of Alibaba will collaborate in a number of areas, including e-commerce, digital logistics, tourism and training.
The 80,000 Monthong durians, weighing a combined 200,000 kilos, were snapped up by Chinese consumers on Alibaba’s Tmall platform within a minute of them going online, after the Hangzhou-based e-commerce operator closed a 3 billion yuan (US$478 million; Bt15 billion), three-year deal on durian sales with the Thailand government, according to a statement from Alibaba.
“China is on its way to becoming the world’s largest consumer, driven by rising income and a growing middle class of 300 million. There is no better time than now for trade-oriented countries to seize this opportunity to export to China as the country continues to open its doors wider for global trade,” said Jack Ma, executive chairman and co-founder of Alibaba.
Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations for Chinese travellers, with its appeal boosted in recent years thanks to the 2013 Chinese comedy film Lost in Thailand which was the first local film to break through the 1 billion yuan mark at the box office. In February, 1.2 million Chinese travelled to Thailand, up 40 percent from the same month last year, according to data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
The durians will be sold via Alibaba’s online and offline retail channels including its business-to-consumer platform Tmall, its Hema cashless supermarkets, as well as the 450 RT-Mart hypermarkets owned by Sun Art Retail Group, which received US$2.9 billion in funding from Alibaba in November last year.
On Tmall, an order for 4.5 to 5 kilograms of Monthongs goes for 199 yuan (US$32), inclusive of all delivery and taxes. The Tmall website claims more than two million durians have been sold on the platform so far, including those before the current deal was in place. Durians are known as the King of Fruit, though some people liken its pungent smell to stinky socks.
“Not just durians, Thailand is also famous for bananas and crops such like rice,” Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said at the launch of the initiative.
A Thai rice shop was also officially launched on Tmall on Thursday.
Alibaba said Chinese consumers bought more than 7.7 trillion yuan-worth of imported goods from its online channels in 2017, with food accounting for a large part of that.
Apart from the Thai food deals, Alibaba’s online travel platform Fliggy is working with TAT on improving the Chinese travel experience in the country.