HANGZHOU, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Sold for up to 60 yuan (about 9 U.S. dollars) apiece, around 500 kg of waxberries left Xianju, a mountainous county in east China's Zhejiang Province, and arrived in supermarkets and high-end hotels in Dubai last week, where customers could enjoy a fresh taste of the early summer.
"Waxberries are highly perishable. To keep their freshness as much as possible, we pick up the fruit at 3 a.m. before putting them into cold storage for pre-cooling," said Wu Jiazhen, head of the Xiandai Agricultural Development Co., Ltd. in Xianju County.
"We then seal the berries, put them in boxes and send the fruit to the airport by a refrigerated truck," Wu said.
Customs in the city of Taizhou which administers Xianju had sampled the waxberries before they were picked up and conducted lab tests on agricultural residues to ensure the quality and safety of the exported berries.
"On the picking day, we also check the appearance and quality of the fruit and speed up inspection and quarantine procedures," said Chen Ye, an official with the Taizhou Customs.
With a history of more than 1,000 years, the juicy and sweet Chinese bayberries in Xianju, which are up to more than 40 grams apiece and as big as ping pong balls, have become all the rage home and abroad in recent years.
From 2019 to 2021, a total of nearly 30 tonnes of Xianju waxberries had been exported to countries including the United States, France, Germany, Singapore, Canada and Netherlands.
"The price of exported Xianju waxberries this year reaches 10 to 60 yuan apiece. Behind the relatively higher price are mainly the expensive transportation fees and decreased production due to the climate reasons," Wu said.
Xianju is now home to 100,000 waxberry growers and more than 50 waxberry planting villages. The planting area of the Chinese bayberries in Xianju totaled over 94 square km, with the output reaching 100,000 tonnes worth over 1 billion yuan last year. The average income of Xianju's waxberry growers has increased by 32,000 yuan annually.
Zhu Shuixing, an agronomic expert with the agriculture and rural bureau in Xainju, attributed the prosperity of the sweet business to the development of storage and transportation technology.
"With the support of research institutes, Xianju waxberries have adopted a series of freshness-keeping technologies, such as vacuum packaging, nitrogen packaging and cold chain transportation," Zhu said.
"Under normal temperature in summer, waxberries can only be kept for one to two days, but with the digital pulsed magnetic field technology, they can be kept for as long as 30 days," Zhu added.