Singapore savors a bite of Chongqing crisp plums
This summer, foodies in Singapore for the first time savored crisp plums harvested deep in the mountains of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.
Known for its crisp, juicy and tender flesh, the crisp plum is one of three major fruits grown in Wushan County. In 2022, the total planting area of the crisp plum in Wushan reached about 20,000 hectares, which played a vital role in boosting rural revitalization in the Three Gorges Reservoir area.
Yet the popular fruit had been unable to go global for a long period of time.
"On the one hand, we had little understanding of overseas markets. On the other, Wushan crisp plum is vulnerable and therefore more difficult to transport," said Wang Chenyu, general manager of a cold chain logistics company in Chongqing.
According to Wang, Wushan crisp plums must be transported at 4 to 8 degrees Celsius, and the transport duration had to be kept within 5 to 7 days.
A turning point came this year. Just prior to its harvest season, a team was established with the support of local authorities and various departments under the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity to facilitate the export of crisp plums.
Launched in 2015, the initiative is an inter-governmental cooperation project between China and Singapore and mainly targets financial services, air transportation, logistics, and information communication.
Simplified clearance procedures, a customized courier service and strict quality control under the initiative have combined to substantially jack up the export prospects of this dainty fruit.
In late July, the first batch of 300 kg of Wushan crisp plums finally took a direct flight from Chongqing to Singapore. The whole trip took about four hours.
"This summer we exported two batches of crisp plums to Singapore," noted Wang.
Wang added that a new land-sea transport route is under discussion, which should result in the fresh fruit being sent via Beibu Gulf in southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region or Shenzhen in Guangdong Province by cold chain truck, and then to Singapore by sea.
"The logistics cost will be greatly reduced compared with the current land-air transport," Wang said.
The new route is feasible thanks to new fresh-keeping equipment developed by the School of Electrical Engineering at Chongqing University, which can significantly prolong the freshness of crisp plums.
"The new fresh-keeping technology can extend the period in storage from just 4 to 5 days to two weeks," said Wang, who believes the new technology lays a solid foundation for the sale of Wushan crisp plums to more overseas markets.
"After the two shipments, we have received several new orders from dealers in Singapore, which shows that Wushan crisp plums are well received and gives us confidence to enlarge its exportation," said Zhou Yangchun, director of the commission of commerce in Wushan County.