GEORGE TOWN: There’s no better time to eat the famous Penang durian than now.
Owing to the current Covid-19 outbreak, supply is expected to outweigh demand for the king of fruits, which means the price will be much cheaper, and the quality is still assured.
Durian trader Tan Chee Keat said the A-list Musang King would not cost a bomb but would be more affordable now.
“There are a lot of branded durian this year such as Musang King, Black Thorn and Ang Heh (Red Prawn).
“I think the Musang King will probably cost between RM20 and RM35 per kg, which is way cheaper than in previous years.
“At one time Musang King cost around RM60 per kilo in the market, ” he said, adding that the peak season was expected to be in mid-May.
Tan said the harvesting at his orchard in Balik Pulau began this week and the durian would continue to drop in the coming days.
“This year, not only will there be more durian but the quality will be good too because of the long hot spell, ” he said.
Due to the movement control order (MCO), Tan said many durian traders had to switch to online delivery service.
“For export, we will freeze the durian using the nitrogen process and keep the pulps in a cool room before deciding what to do after the MCO is lifted.
“The overall sales will definitely be affected, ” he added.
Another durian seller, L.Y. Ang, said the sales of durian would drop by at least 60% this year due to the MCO and the oversupply of the fruit in the market.
“Our customers are mostly locals who prefer to eat durian at our stalls. It’s fresher that way.
“I tried providing delivery service last year but the income that I got was only about 5% of the total sales.
“Many customers who order via delivery are the younger ones because the older generation is not as tech-savvy.
“If the MCO is not lifted by May, our business will be badly affected, ” he said.
Ang believed that the online demand for branded durian would exceed that of the kampung variety.
Meanwhile, durian orchard owner Ng Wei Dave said another popular brand, the “604” varierty, could now fetch RM20 to RM25 per kg, compared to about RM45 per kg in the market last year.
“This year, the market price for most of the durian will drop drastically, ” he said.