Malaysian ‘designer durians’ carving out premium niche in China

  • China
  • Wednesday, 16 Jun 2021

BEIJING (Bloomberg): Malaysian durians have topped fruit and vegetable presales at a big Chinese retail festival, showing the pulling power of the pungent delicacy.

The top-selling variety at’s 618 festival -- China’s second-largest shopping event after Alibaba’s Singles’ Day -- was the Sultan durian from Pahang state, according to local media that cited data from the e-commerce giant. Sales have even exceeded that of ice cream and peaches.

With its creamy custard-like flesh and powerful odor, the thorny fruit has surged in popularity in China. Imports of fresh durians quadrupled to us$2.3 billion last year from 2017, according to United Nations data, and they overtook cherries to become the country’s No. 1 fruit import by value in 2019.

Though ‘DurioTourism’ -- where Chinese tourists visit Malaysian farms -- is currently at a halt due to travel restrictions, durian diplomacy is still going strong. MAPC Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia’s largest durian supplier that exports about 90% of its fruit to China, has set up seven centres to promote the Musang King variety in second- and third-tier Chinese cities over the past year.

It will add another 15 this year to lure more consumers with free samples, said Sam Tan, the company’s executive director who is also the president of the Malaysia Durian Exporters Association.

"Less than 10% of China’s population has ever tasted Malaysian durians, ” he said. With more farmers joining the industry, our supply is expected to expand at least 50% a year, Tan said.

Unlike Thai growers who pluck durians from the tree at 85% maturity to prolong the period they can be stored for, Malaysian farmers typically wait for the fruit to ripen and drop to the ground. That locks them out of the Chinese market for fresh durians, which is currently dominated by Thailand.

Malaysia used to send its durians to China only as pulp and paste but won approval to export frozen fruit in 2019. Exemplified by premium varieties such as Sultan and Musang King, the full-maturity fruit have a reputation for quality and are sought after by aficionados who view them as ‘designer durians.’

"Harvesting when the durian drops has been our tradition since the 1950s,” said Wilson Chang, a second-generation durian farmer in Pahang state.

"Our foremost concern is ensuring quality and taste. Already the demand for our durians far exceeds our supply.”

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

China , Malaysia , durian , export


Next In Aseanplus News

Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand to jointly nominate kebaya for Unesco heritage list
S. Korea ex-spy chief arrested over sea border shooting, reports Yonhap
GRS' Armizan surprised to be appointed minister
Cabinet sworn in before the King at Istana Negara
Ambivalent Argentines want to be Messi but are more Maradona - author
Soccer-South Koreans cheer dramatic win, shed joyful tears with Son
Beijing and Shenzhen loosen more Covid-19 curbs as China easing gathers pace
Oil dips US$1/bbl ahead of OPEC+ meeting and EU Russian oil ban
Hong Kong HIV patient shows stigma can be defeated, once forced to live in isolation at home by his own mother
Malaysia cannot afford to withdraw from trans-Pacific trade pact, says group

Others Also Read