Thailand promotes online sale of orchids to China via Alibaba

Mr. Pornchai Tarkulwaranont, Advisor to Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Commerce of Thailand, witnessed the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Thai Orchid Exporter Association and Ali Auction, an online auction platform under Alibaba Group, to promote the export of Thai orchids to the China market through e-commerce.

Mr. Tarkulwaranont revealed at the signing ceremony the Ministry of Commerce (MOC)’s plans to expand orchid sales to the Chinese market via e-commerce through a collaboration between the Thai Orchid Exporter Association and Ali Auction, China’s largest online auction platform for both wholesale buyers and consumers. This is the latest result of the close cooperation between the MOC and Alibaba Group to promote Thai agricultural products to the Chinese market and innovate Thailand’s agricultural sector through digital channels, which is part of the broader collaboration between the Thai government and Alibaba Group started in April 2018 to transform Thailand’s economy for the digital age.

Ali Auction is hosted on Taobao Marketplace, Alibaba Group’s flagship social commerce platform which enjoys access to more than 600 million annual active consumers (as of September 30, 2018). It facilitates several forms of online auctions by businesses and government agencies, covering a wide range of products such as flowers, art pieces, jewelry, cars and collectables. In the initial stage, the Thai Orchid Exporter Association and Ali Auction will focus on promoting sales of Thai orchids to small businesses such as online and offline florists, wedding planners, conference organizers and restaurants in China while also serving individual consumers, with prospects to expand the scope going forward.

“The signing of the MOU will be a key step in the expansion of the orchid trade, which to date is still mainly conducted through traditional channels. Thai orchid growers should adapt to digital trends to be able to compete in the future,” said Mr. Kasan Chavanapanit, President of Thai Orchid Exporter Association. “China is an important market, as the value of Chinese flowers trading through the online channel amounted to RMB36 billion in 2018 and the value is expected to increase by 70 percent in 2019.”

By directly connecting buyers to product sources, Ali Auction offers small business buyers trusted product quality and promises consumers more competitive prices and longer vase life of the flowers. Its pre-sale model will also make it possible for orchid growers to better plan their production based on actual customer needs. “We have proven successes in bridging Chinese buyers and overseas businesses such as Dutch tulip and Israeli diamond suppliers. We are confident that our tie-up with the Thai Orchid Exporter Association will help expand Thai orchid growers’ reach to potential customers in China who were previously not accessible through traditional means,” said Jun Zhen, Business Development Manager at Ali Auction.

The Department of International Trade is confident that China will be one of Thailand’s major export markets with its growing purchasing power. Orchid, as one of the symbols of Thailand, is a key product category in its efforts to drive Thai exports. Thailand is currently the world’s number one export market of orchids, with its top selling species being Dendrobium, Aranda, Arachnis, Oncidium and Vanda. The Department is ready to support the Thai Orchid Exporter Association to export quality orchids to the Chinese market and to improve the image of Thai orchids.

Based on data from the MOC, the scale of the global orchid market is estimated at USD400 million and most of the orchids available on the market are from tropical areas. There are currently more than 60 major orchid buyer markets worldwide, with the United States, Japan, Vietnam, China and Italy accounting for 68 percent of the world’s orchid imports. Thailand is the world's number one orchid flower exporter, while the Netherlands is the world's top orchid tree exporter. Other major orchid producers in the world include Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, China and South Korea.

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