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Thursday, 4 September 2014

Going bananas over M’sian produce

CONSUMERS in Singapore are snapping up more fruits from Malaysia, buying 6% more every year for the last three years.

Last year, about 144,600 tonnes of fruits were imported from across the Causeway, accounting for 35% of total fruit imports that year, figures from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) show.

This made Malaysia the top source of fruits for Singapore.

Other main sources include China, the Philippines, South Africa and the United States.

Singapore brings in about 50 types of fruits from Malaysia; the top five, in order of popularity, are watermelon, papaya, durian, banana and pineapple, AVA said.

Fans of Malaysian fruits say they tend to be fresher and taste better.

Fruit stall manager Woo Jin Shun, 50, said: “Our customers like Malaysian fruits because they are fresher.

“They also say they can taste a difference in the texture, especially the durians.”

About 60% of the fruits at the Geylang stall, Wonderful Durian, where Woo works, is from Malaysia.

It takes between three and eight hours for the fruits to get to Singapore from Malaysia, he said, depending on traffic conditions and how fast the suppliers can turn around orders.

Housewife Rosminah Said, 63, who was shopping at Agrobazaar Malaysia last week, said the texture of bananas from across the Causeway, for example, is better for cooking.

She uses the fruit to make pengat pisang, or banana stewed in coconut milk with palm sugar.

Officially opened last week by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Agrobazaar Malaysia, located at Sultan Gate off Beach Road, stocks authentic Malaysian produce, including fruits and groceries. It also has a cafe and roof-top restaurant.

Agrobazaar’s assistant manager Anisah Amin said the 20 types of fruits it sells are sourced directly from farms in Malaysia and delivered to the store every two days to ensure freshness. The bazaar serves as another source of Malaysian fruits for Singapore consumers.

Retiree Chung Chee Keong, 85, who paid S$29 (RM73) for a D24 durian at the store, said: “It’s the real deal here; no need to be afraid of getting cheated.” — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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