As Chinese Tastes Change, Farmers Everywhere Rip Up and Replant
Kanebridge News
    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,627,086 (-0.52%)       Melbourne $991,016 (+0.02%)       Brisbane $1,008,247 (+0.57%)       Adelaide $881,757 (-1.94%)       Perth $857,431 (+0.47%)       Hobart $728,683 (+0.15%)       Darwin $650,080 (-2.29%)       Canberra $1,042,488 (+1.17%)       National $1,052,954 (-0.17%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $754,033 (-0.54%)       Melbourne $493,897 (-0.18%)       Brisbane $575,927 (+2.34%)       Adelaide $460,725 (+2.82%)       Perth $451,917 (+0.14%)       Hobart $507,207 (+0.52%)       Darwin $359,807 (+0.61%)       Canberra $486,447 (-2.01%)       National $534,000 (+0.26%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,472 (+43)       Melbourne 14,783 (-132)       Brisbane 7,948 (+15)       Adelaide 2,170 (+81)       Perth 5,836 (+49)       Hobart 1,243 (+2)       Darwin 251 (+7)       Canberra 967 (-21)       National 43,670 (+44)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,699 (+113)       Melbourne 8,259 (+38)       Brisbane 1,637 (+2)       Adelaide 386 (+14)       Perth 1,480 (-37)       Hobart 204 (+6)       Darwin 409 (+5)       Canberra 1,034 (+6)       National 22,108 (+147)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $820 ($0)       Melbourne $600 ($0)       Brisbane $640 (-$10)       Adelaide $610 (+$10)       Perth $680 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $740 (-$10)       Canberra $680 ($0)       National $675 (-$2)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $760 ($0)       Melbourne $595 ($0)       Brisbane $630 (-$10)       Adelaide $500 ($0)       Perth $625 (+$5)       Hobart $460 (+$10)       Darwin $535 (-$5)       Canberra $550 ($0)       National $595 (-$1)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 6,053 (+221)       Melbourne 6,376 (+263)       Brisbane 4,431 (+5)       Adelaide 1,566 (+60)       Perth 2,666 (-61)       Hobart 431 (0)       Darwin 102 (+7)       Canberra 621 (+19)       National 22,246 (+514)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,306 (+260)       Melbourne 6,173 (+102)       Brisbane 2,248 (-24)       Adelaide 399 (+26)       Perth 754 (+14)       Hobart 148 (+5)       Darwin 145 (+9)       Canberra 785 (+39)       National 20,958 (+431)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.62% (↑)        Melbourne 3.15% (↓)       Brisbane 3.30% (↓)     Adelaide 3.60% (↑)        Perth 4.12% (↓)       Hobart 3.92% (↓)     Darwin 5.92% (↑)        Canberra 3.39% (↓)       National 3.33% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 5.24% (↑)      Melbourne 6.26% (↑)        Brisbane 5.69% (↓)       Adelaide 5.64% (↓)     Perth 7.19% (↑)      Hobart 4.72% (↑)        Darwin 7.73% (↓)     Canberra 5.88% (↑)        National 5.79% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.8% (↑)      Melbourne 0.7% (↑)      Brisbane 0.7% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)      Perth 0.4% (↑)      Hobart 0.9% (↑)      Darwin 0.8% (↑)      Canberra 1.0% (↑)      National 0.7% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 0.9% (↑)      Melbourne 1.1% (↑)      Brisbane 1.0% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 0.5% (↑)      Hobart 1.4% (↑)      Darwin 1.7% (↑)      Canberra 1.4% (↑)      National 1.1% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 28.7 (↓)       Melbourne 30.2 (↓)       Brisbane 30.7 (↓)     Adelaide 25.9 (↑)        Perth 35.8 (↓)       Hobart 37.6 (↓)     Darwin 37.0 (↑)      Canberra 28.5 (↑)      National 31.8 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 29.2 (↓)     Melbourne 30.4 (↑)        Brisbane 29.5 (↓)     Adelaide 26.3 (↑)        Perth 36.6 (↓)       Hobart 29.7 (↓)       Darwin 45.0 (↓)     Canberra 39.6 (↑)        National 33.3 (↓)           
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As Chinese Tastes Change, Farmers Everywhere Rip Up and Replant

The windfall is transforming entire regions, but some are starting to worry: What if China stops buying?

By JON EMONT
Wed, Nov 22, 2023 8:30amGrey Clock 4 min

EA YONG, Vietnam—In the verdant highlands of central Vietnam, warehouses the size of airplane hangars dominate small farming towns, bristling with mounds of tropical fruit. The bounty is destined for a colossal market: China.

Farmers are felling coffee trees traditionally grown in this cool hilly region to plant spiky durians, pungent fruits that have become wildly popular in China. They are reaping the windfall to buy new irrigation systems, pay off loans and build shiny marble facades to their homes.

“We locals aren’t just doing well, we can even be considered rich,” said Pham Van Trung, 54, as he ate a late lunch of pork and rice wine. Trung made $81,000 this year selling durian, and said the region was swarming with Chinese buyers.

China’s appetite for foreign produce has grown in recent decades along with the wealth of its consumers. The amount of food the world’s second most populous nation imports has risen to over $200 billion a year—more than any other country—from about $15 billion two decades ago, according to the World Trade Organization. Avocado farmers in Kenya, shrimp cultivators in India, soy producers in Russia and banana growers in Cambodia are all cashing in.

While economic growth in China has slowed recently and its population is shrinking, demand for nutrient-rich foods such as beef and tropical fruit has remained high.

Last year, the Chinese noshed through more than 800,000 metric tons of imported durian and nearly six million metric tons of imported meat—both world-leading totals. It bought 90 million metric tons of soybeans from overseas last year, accounting for roughly 60% of global trade, for use in making tofu and to feed the country’s hundreds of millions of pigs.

Feeding China’s massive middle class presents a historic opportunity for countries seeking to boost the incomes of people in poor, rural areas. But it also poses a quandary: how to tap in to its huge market without becoming dependent on a trade partner that can be fickle.

In recent years, China has restricted imports of Norwegian salmon, Taiwanese pineapples, Philippines bananas and Australian lobsters. It usually cites contamination, pests or issues with quality—but Beijing’s curbs have also often coincided with political disputes.

China slapped hefty antidumping duties on Australian wine exports in 2020 after Australia called for an independent probe into the origins of Covid-19. In 2012, China halted purchases from banana growers in the Philippines, saying mealybugs had been discovered in shipments, after a flare-up between the countries in the South China Sea.

“With the size of the Chinese economy, it can always use trade to punish an exporter,” said Yun Sun, director of the China program at the Stimson Center, a think tank in Washington, D.C. Selling to China is “an opportunity, and it is a risk,” she said.

The risk is higher because when the chance to export to China’s massive market opens up, often entire agricultural belts go all in. This can lead to what Sun calls “singularification,” or the concentration of a local economy around one product, making it vulnerable to disruption.

Vietnamese farmers are felling coffee trees to plant durians for export to China. PHOTO: JON EMONT/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

That is what appears to be happening in Vietnam’s central highlands. The region is famed for its Robusta coffee, which is sold around the world. But last year, Beijing opened the gates to large-scale imports of Vietnamese durian—and farmers here began uprooting their coffee crops. Traders flocked to snap up the produce, causing local prices to more than double this year.

Be Duc Huynh, a 26-year-old farmer who got rid of his entire coffee crop, said he makes about five times as much from a hectare of durian as he earned from coffee. He harvested four tons of durian this year, up from one ton last year—all of it destined for China.

China buys around 90% of durian exports from Vietnam, which also sells much of its dragon fruit, bananas, mangoes and jackfruit to its giant neighbour. In recent months around 60% of Vietnam’s fruit and vegetable exports have gone to China, up from one-third a decade ago, according to official figures compiled by data provider CEIC.

During the autumn harvest time, the village air carried the sharp smell of the fruit. Families stacked mounds of durian in front of their homes to entice traders, who thwacked the durian shells with knife handles to test for quality. Hard means it is too young; soft means it is ripe and can sell for a higher price.

On a recent afternoon, durian trader Nguyen Thai Huyen dug into the flesh with her painted-pink fingernails, tasting bits of durian to determine their ripeness. Huyen posts snappy videos on TikTok of her visits to plantations and the mountains of durian she has on offer.

“A few years ago people considered durian a crop to reduce poverty,” she said. “Now it is the million-dollar crop.”

She has tried selling to Japan, but said buyers there only take small amounts. She isn’t especially worried about being too reliant on China, though. She says durian’s popularity has room to grow in the country, where many are still unfamiliar with the fruit.

Vietnam’s government is less certain. Earlier this year the agriculture ministry issued a warning about what state media called reckless durian cultivation, saying many farmers were abandoning traditional crops such as coffee and rice and planting durian in areas unsuited to it. Agriculture experts cited in state media have encouraged farmers to develop alternative markets to China and try to sell more of their produce locally.

Traders say that is easier said than done. The fruit has few takers outside of the region, and recent high prices put durian out of reach of many local Vietnamese.

Still, farmers say they want to be careful. In September, some fruit exports including durian were halted after Beijing complained about mealybugs and other pests. It reminded farmers of a major disruption in January 2022 when truckloads of Vietnamese produce rotted after China sealed off its southern border to contain the spread of Covid-19.

H’Meng, a farmer who goes by one name, has planted hundreds of durian trees in recent years. Now, she said, she is planning to grow more coffee. The prices are more stable, she said, because the market for coffee isn’t focused on one nation.

“I’m worried about becoming too dependent on China,” she said.



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New York Watch Auctions Record Uptick in Sales in the Face of Market Slowdown
By LAURIE KAHLE
Mon, Jun 24, 2024 4 min

Luxury watch collectors showed ongoing strong demand for Patek Philippe, growing interest in modern watches and a preference for larger case sizes and leather straps at the June watch sales in New York, according to an analysis of the major auctions.

Independent and neo-vintage categories, meanwhile, experienced declines in total sales and average prices, said the report from  EveryWatch, a global online platform for watch information. Overall, the New York auctions achieved total sales of US$52.27 million, a 9.87% increase from the previous year, on the sale of 470 lots, reflecting a 37% increase in volume. Unsold rates ticked down a few points to 5.31%, according to the platform’s analysis.

EveryWatch gathered data from official auction results for sales held in New York from June 5 to 10 at Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s. Limited to watch sales exclusively, each auction’s data was reviewed and compiled for several categories, including total lots, sales and sold rates, highest prices achieved, performance against estimates, sales trends in case materials and sizes as well as dial colors, and more. The resulting analysis provides a detailed overview of market trends and performance.

The Charles Frodsham Pocket watch sold at Phillips for $433,400.

“We still see a strong thirst for rare, interesting, and exceptional watches, modern and vintage alike, despite a little slow down in the market overall,” says Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of the California-based pre-owned online watch dealer BobsWatches.com, in an email. “The results show that there is still a lot of money floating around out there in the economy looking for quality assets.”

Patek Philippe came out on top with more than US$17.68 million on the sale of 122 lots. It also claimed the top lot: Sylvester Stallone’s Patek Philippe GrandMaster Chime 6300G-010, still in the sealed factory packaging, which sold at Sotheby’s for US$5.4 million, much to the dismay of the brand’s president, Thierry Stern . The London-based industry news website WatchPro estimates the flip made the actor as much as US$2 million in just a few years.

At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire
Richard Mille

“As we have seen before and again in the recent Sotheby’s sale, provenance can really drive prices higher than market value with regards to the Sylvester Stallone Panerai watches and his standard Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1a offered,” Altieri says.

Patek Philippe claimed half of the top 10 lots, while Rolex and Richard Mille claimed two each, and Philippe Dufour claimed the No. 3 slot with a 1999 Duality, which sold at Phillips for about US$2.1 million.

“In-line with EveryWatch’s observation of the market’s strong preference for strap watches, the top lot of our auction was a Philippe Dufour Duality,” says Paul Boutros, Phillips’ deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, in an email. “The only known example with two dials and hand sets, and presented on a leather strap, it achieved a result of over US$2 million—well above its high estimate of US$1.6 million.”

In all, four watches surpassed the US$1 million mark, down from seven in 2023. At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire, the most expensive watch sold at Christie’s in New York. That sale also saw a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM52-01 CA-FQ Tourbillon Skull Model go for US$1.26 million to an online buyer.

Rolex expert Altieri was surprised one of the brand’s timepieces did not crack the US$1 million threshold but notes that a rare Rolex Daytona 6239 in yellow gold with a “Paul Newman John Player Special” dial came close at US$952,500 in the Phillips sale.

The Crown did rank second in terms of brand clout, achieving sales of US$8.95 million with 110 lots. However, both Patek Philippe and Rolex experienced a sales decline by 8.55% and 2.46%, respectively. The independent brand Richard Mille, with US$6.71 million in sales, marked a 912% increase from the previous year with 15 lots, up from 5 lots in 2023.

The results underscored recent reports of prices falling on the secondary market for specific coveted models from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. The summary points out that five top models produced high sales but with a fall in average prices.

The Rolex Daytona topped the list with 42 appearances, averaging US$132,053, a 41% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, with two of the top five watches, made 26 appearances with an average price of US$111,198, a 26% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar followed with 23 appearances and a US$231,877 average price, signifying a fall of 43%, and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak had 22 appearances and an average price of US$105,673, a 10% decrease. The Rolex Day Date is the only watch in the top five that tracks an increase in average price, which at US$72,459 clocked a 92% increase over last year.

In terms of categories, modern watches (2005 and newer) led the market with US$30 million in total sales from 226 lots, representing a 53.54% increase in sales and a 3.78% increase in average sales price over 2023. Vintage watches (pre-1985) logged a modest 6.22% increase in total sales and an 89.89% increase in total lots to 169.

However, the average price was down across vintage, independent, and neo-vintage (1990-2005) watches. Independent brands saw sales fall 24.10% to US$8.47 million and average prices falling 42.17%, while neo-vintage watches experienced the largest decline in sales and lots, with total sales falling 44.7% to US$8.25 million, and average sales price falling 35.73% to US$111,000.

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