Durians stay popular in China

In high demand: A customer inspecting durians on sale at a stall in Petaling Jaya. According to Shi, the Malaysian durian is also popular in China.

KUALA LUMPUR: With the Covid-19 pandemic waning in both China and Malaysia, durian exports to the Middle Kingdom is expected to rise again, driven by strong demand and consumption.

Commercial Counsellor at the China Embassy in Malaysia Shi Ziming said interest from Chinese consumers in the fruit had not waned, although the supply chain for Malaysian durians was affected early this year.

Demand, she added, had quickly picked up once the pandemic in the republic was successfully controlled.

The Malaysian durian, said Shi, was a favourite in China and often sought after by buyers as special gifts for their friends and families.

“The texture and taste of the Malaysian durian is second to none in the world, ” said Shi in an email interview.

The Chinese’s fondness for the King of Fruit is evident from the country’s total import of 600,000 tonnes of durian worth US$1.7bil (RM7.24bil) in 2019.

However, the Malaysian durian only accounts for a very small percentage of the market share in China and is only available in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and via online platforms.

According to the embassy’s statistics, China imported 3,200 tonnes of frozen durian pulp and paste from Malaysia, amounting to US$41mil (RM175mil) in 2018.

Despite the pandemic and off-season period, Malaysia’s export to China in the first quarter of this year was equivalent to the previous one – US$22mil (RM94mil), said Shi.

“This showed that export was not affected during this time, ” she added.

Shi said the sale of Malaysian durians even increased tenfold towards the end of March following promotions by Chinese e-commerce fresh fruit platform FreshHema and hit 4.35 million yuan (RM2.62mil) on takeaway food platform Meituan Waimai on May 20.

Malaysia Food Farmers Association (Youth Chapter) president Francis Hong said durian export to China had resumed to almost 80% and supply – with the arrival of the new season from May to July or August – was expected to increase and meet demand.

“Like any other sector, we are also affected by Covid-19, but now, the situation is slowly improving. With the new season just starting, we are hopeful for a good harvest. This, of course, very much depends on the weather as well, ” he said.

Hong, who also exports durians to China, said Malaysia’s durian market share in the republic was only about 10%.

Malaysia only exports premium variants of durians to China, including the famous Musang King, 101 and D24. On average, a kilogramme of Musang King could fetch up to between 200 yuan and 300 yuan (RM120 and RM180), said Hong.

Another entrepreneur, Fred Lim, said although his durian production and sales were badly affected by the pandemic, he remained optimistic that the situation would recover soon.

He said the movement control order (MCO) had caused his business to drop by 50%, with revenue being slashed from RM5mil monthly previously to RM2.5mil now.

Lim, who has been exporting durian pulp and paste to China since 2010, said he hoped that the International Trade and Industry Ministry and Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry would organise trade missions to China soon.

Shi said she hoped Malaysian suppliers and exporters could launch more market promotion activities so that their durians could be savoured by more people in China.

She also encouraged Malaysian entrepreneurs to introduce more varieties of durian-based food products – such as pastries – to the Chinese market.

“As Malaysian durian’s fame continues to expand in China, the potential is endless, ” Shi added. — Bernama

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Malaysia , durian , export , China , pandemic


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