The lock-down of Wuhan officially ended on April 4th, 2020. People from Wuhan are once again allowed to travel beyond their city and people from other parts of China are now allowed to enter the city. The lock-down had serious consequences for different industries in the last few months. Fruit and vegetable markets in particular suffered from the isolation measures.

Yu Hao, an orange grower from Zigui county in Yichang city, Hubei, recently shared his experience during the lock-down of Wuhan: “When the isolation measures were most severe, we had very few retail channels to market our oranges. Furthermore, transportation was limited and express deliveries were irregular at best. At the same time, people from outside the province were not allowed to enter. In the end, we were unable to find a market for many of our oranges.”

“The Lane late orange is one of the major navel orange varieties currently on the market. This orange variety ripens in March and April. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 60 thousand tons of this orange variety went unsold. In the end, some of the industries in Wuhan gradually resumed business on March 9th, and we already started harvesting our oranges around that time. However, few traders from outside of Hubei province purchased our oranges. The only development that gives us hope is the fact that we relieved the isolation relatively early in comparison to some other production areas. We are currently operating as usual.”

“The purchase price in production areas is currently around 4-4.5 yuan [0.56-0.64 USD] per 0.5 kg, which is more or less the same as last year. The price did not drop much in comparison with last year because the Lane late navel orange is the most popular navel orange variety in Zigui county. The oranges grow over a period of 12-15 months. The sales season takes place between March and May every year. The oranges are generally not kept in refrigerated storage as the flavor of navel oranges from refrigerated storage is inferior to fresh navel oranges. In order to protect the product quality of our oranges, we sell them immediately after we harvest them. The production volume this year is on the same level as last year. However, the sales volume declined. We did receive much help from other provinces in the second half of the season. Several internet celebrities helped Hubei companies sell their products during this difficult season. The conditions gradually improved because people from different backgrounds worked together. Luo Yonghao, internet celebrity and founder of Smartisan, helped to promote Lane late navel oranges from Hubei in a TikTok video on April 10th. He sold more than 600 thousand tons of Lane late navel oranges from Zigui county during his live broadcast.”

“Although many internet celebrities helped to promote fresh agricultural products from Hubei, the overall market slowed down, and conditions are still far from ideal. There are still not many interested traders. Their number declined by 40% in comparison with last year. We received orders from cities across China around this time last year, but now the situation is very different. We currently supply Wuhan city and nearby cities in Hubei, even though we can deliver our oranges across the country. The problems with transportation have largely been solved, but people are not yet buying our products in the same volumes as they used to. We hope the conditions will improve in the next few months.” –