Truck driver Wang Min and his fellow workers drove for more than 30 hours to deliver loads of fresh vegetables from China's major vegetable production base of Shouguang, Shandong Province, to Suifenhe that sits at the China-Russia border in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
The nighttime temperature had dropped to below zero degrees Celsius in Suifenhe when Wang prepared to wrap the fresh products with thick quilts to prevent them from freezing on the road.
At 10 p.m., workers were still busy in the storehouse of Suifenhe Lanyang Economic and Trade Co. Ltd. collecting and sorting a dozen variety of vegetables such as carrots, onions and potatoes delivered by truck drivers like Wang from across China. The company has exported more than 20,000 tonnes of vegetables to Russia so far this year.
With the onset of winter, the demand for vegetables in far eastern Russia has soared and the peak season for China's fresh vegetable exports to Russia has begun as well, Wang Yingdong, general manager of the company told Xinhua.
Alexandria Lakishev, a bank clerk in Russia's Vladivostok, told Xinhua over the phone that Chinese vegetables have become indispensable to Russian dining tables.
"Convenient trade channels have brought fresh Chinese vegetables to Russian families. I hadn't tried broccoli and okra before but with the supply of a wide variety of Chinese vegetables to Vladivostok, I can get them here. I like to eat these vegetables," he said.
Lakishev added that winters in Russia are long, lasting for more than six months, making it difficult for vegetables to grow. Besides, vegetables grown in greenhouses are expensive in Russia. Therefore, the supply of Chinese produce has made fresh vegetables more affordable for Russians.
Russia's Vladivostok and the city of Heihe in northeast China's Heilongjiang face each other across a river.
Sun Li, manager of Heihe Fangshengyuan Commerce and Trade Co., Ltd., said his company exports 30,000 tonnes of vegetables annually to Russia.
Sun said that it takes two days for Chinese vegetable exports from Heihe to reach the market in Vladivostok. Heihe only has a waterway entry point to Russia. Due to seasonal factors, exports in Heihe are suspended at the end of October and shipments to Russia are diverted to the land checkpoint in Suifenhe.
At present, Sun's firm sends seven to eight trucks of vegetables a week to Russia, mainly tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
China's vegetable exports to Russia are mainly carried out through the customs of Suifenhe, Heihe in Heilongjiang and Manzhouli in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, where "green passages" have facilitated the export of fresh vegetables to the Russian market.