Local fruits at ‘rock bottom’ prices


A few customers choosing mangosteens from an abundant supply of tropical fruits at the Bayan Baru Market in Penang. — K.T. GOH and ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GOOD news for fruit lovers! The local tropical fruit season is now at its peak with favourites like rambutans, mangosteens and cempedaks now abundant. And prices are going as low as they can be compared with prices in the past few years.

Fruit traders and suppliers report low demand, causing orchards to slash prices to clear their produce.

At a fruit store in Bayan Lepas, Penang, wholesaler and supplier Abdul Rahman Harul, 50, said the seasonal fruits were at their cheapest compared with prices over the past five years.

Mohd Faizul Abu Bakar, 38, selling mangosteens at RM20 for 4kg at a roadside stall in Jalan Kubang Semang in Bukit Mertajam.Mohd Faizul Abu Bakar, 38, selling mangosteens at RM20 for 4kg at a roadside stall in Jalan Kubang Semang in Bukit Mertajam.

Cempedaks are now at RM4 to RM5 per kg, rambutans are selling at RM10 for 3kg and mangosteens are at 3kg for RM12.

“In the past, each kilo of cempedak would go at between RM6 and RM8 and 1kg of rambutans could easily go for RM10.

“But now many traders are selling to clear volume and we are trying to sell in bundles to get people to buy more because there are few buyers,” he said on Saturday.

Aiman Haziq Anuar, 12, helping his father sell rambutans at a stall along Jalan Muthu Palaniappan in Bukit Mertajam.Aiman Haziq Anuar, 12, helping his father sell rambutans at a stall along Jalan Muthu Palaniappan in Bukit Mertajam.

Abdul Rahman said harvests were abundant from Balik Pulau and Teluk Kumbar, but it was not as easy to send the fruits to other states so sellers must rely on local consumers.

“We also think the vaccination against Covid-19 in Penang of 30,000 people a day may have an effect on local demand.

“Many people seem to think they should not take fruits like rambutans, durians and cempedak after vaccination,” Abdul Rahman said.

Abdul Rahman arranging his supply of rambutans and mangosteens in Bayan Lepas.Abdul Rahman arranging his supply of rambutans and mangosteens in Bayan Lepas.

Another fruit trader at Bayan Baru Market, Nigel Ooi, 41, said he too was experiencing slow sales and believed the vaccination drive might be a contributing factor.

“Many of our customers tell us they dare not eat seasonal fruits like rambutans after receiving their jabs.

“As these fruits are considered ‘heaty’ to the human body, many avoid these fruits during vaccination.

Nurhashimah Ismail, 30, selling bunches of petai near the Bukit Mertajam public market in Jalan Bunga Raya, Bukit Mertajam.Nurhashimah Ismail, 30, selling bunches of petai near the Bukit Mertajam public market in Jalan Bunga Raya, Bukit Mertajam.

“But in the case of mangosteens, we are seeing slightly better sales as these are considered ‘cooling’.”

Ooi said at his stall, rambutans were being sold at RM3.50 per kg, compared with the start of the season when he was able to sell them at RM10 for 2kg.

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