Fresh ‘King of Fruits’ set to hit China

Fruitful labour: A farmer, Tan Chee Keat, 33, showing the durian flower buds at his farm in Relau, Penang. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: The popular Balik Pulau durian, especially the Musang King variant, will hit the international stage again this year, mainly to China and Hong Kong.Orchard owner Eric Yeap said even though it is still the flowering season, he has received orders and enquiries from Hong Kong.

“About 25% to 30% of my total harvest will be exported.

“The fresh durian would be packed in insulated boxes, and delivered on the same day itself,” he said.Yeap said the durian, such as the Musang King variant, would be sold for between RM85 and RM95 per kg in Hong Kong, compared to between RM50 and RM60 per kg locally.

“Although fetching almost 50% more in price, there is a lot more work and risk involved during the transportation process when durians are exported.

“If the fruits are damaged, we need to be responsible to our clients, be it at the shops or private customers,” he said.

Yeap said travel agents have also started making enquiries to plan for trips so visitors can taste Balik Pulau durians.

“The season is expected to start in May and end in August.

“The durian trees are still flowering, so there might be some delay this year.“I advise durian lovers to eat the fruits here, as it would provide them with a wholesome experience and plenty of choices,” said Yeap, who owns the 8321 Durian Farm.Bao Sheng durian farm owner Chang Zhi Vooi, 30, said the upcoming durian season here is expected to be slightly delayed due to the ongoing hot spell.

Fortunately, Chang, who is a third-generation farmer, said the delay would also mean a longer season this year.

“The hot temperature has led to a slower flowering process.

“Because of this, the season which usually starts in early May, will now begin at the end of May.

“Due to the slower flowering process, we expect the season to last until the end of July or August at least,” he said.

Offering some 20 types of durian from over 200 trees at his farm, Chang said most durian lovers nowadays are more choosy.

“They no longer just choose based on the type and variants. Now, they will first ask about the history, harvesting process and quality of each particular fruit before they decide to sample them.

“Here, we offer special sessions to educate our customers about durian variants,” he said.Chang said he is not able to export his durians as his farm is not big enough to produce the quantity for international clients.

“Hence, we prefer our customers to come here and eat them fresh at the farm,” he said.

Malaysia’s fresh durians are expected to make their debut in China this year, presenting an exciting new business opportunity for local durian farmers.The then Deputy Agriculture and Food Security Minister Chan Foong Hin had said that the export of fresh durians to China is anticipated to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations on May 31.

In 2018, a new export protocol for frozen whole durian was signed, reinforcing Malaysia’s significance as a key trading partner for China.

Last year, Malaysia produced 455,458 metric tonnes of durian, 10% of which were shipped to China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Malaysia has been exporting frozen durian products to China since 2011 and frozen whole durians since May 2019.

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