The Funding Partners Anticipates China's Growing Love for Durians

Press Release ( - KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - May 14, 2018 - The value of China’s fresh imports of durian has climbed an average of 26 percent a year over the past decade, reaching US$1.1 billion (S$1.48 billion) last year, according to United Nations data.

Thailand dominates that market, but Malaysian politicians are counting on durian diplomacy to expand access beyond frozen fruit pulp.

Across Malaysia, orchards are recording a spike in the number of Chinese tourists eager to savour a food that is routinely banned from hotels, airports and on public transportation for its pungent smell.

In China, consumers are embracing different foods incorporating the tropical fruit, said Ms. Loris Li, a food and drink analyst with market researcher Mintel Group in Shanghai. Durian is being used to flavour products from yogurt and cookies to coffee and pizza.

Durians and durian-based products are among the most searched-for items in China on e-commerce site Alibaba, Datuk Ahmad Maslan, Malaysia’s Deputy Minister for International Trade and Industry, said recently.

Malaysia’s 45,500 durian farmers are currently locked out of the Chinese market for whole, fresh durians, and instead, rely on exports of the pulp. That is because they typically wait for the fruit to ripen and drop to the ground, rather than climb up a tree to collect it.

The risk of dirt and pests on the whole fruit is deterring China from accepting Malaysian durians, but negotiations with the Chinese authorities may lead to approval for whole-fruit exports within a year, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery told the Malaysia International Durian Cultural Tourism Festival.

As some Chinese durian lovers search for the best all-you-can-eat buffets, others are hunting for orchards to cut out the middleman.

Owning a durian farm in Malaysia is not only a profitable investment but also a sign of prestige, said Mr. Jayson Tee, an agriculture land agent in Pahang. Buyers from China are motivated by the prospect of inviting friends and family to their farms for durian feasts.

“The price of durians keeps going up, so this is their investment opportunity,” Mr. Tee said. “And of course, they love durians.”

Depending on location and accessibility, a farm with six-year-old trees goes for about RM400,000 (S$131,000) per hectare, while those with mature, 10-to-12-year-old trees command at least double that, said real estate agent Eric Lau.

Mr. Eddie Yong, who keeps about 400 mostly Musang King trees, is finding he is almost too good at growing the fruit. His orchard in Raub, Pahang, about 460km north of Singapore, is having to limit the number of tourists to 150 a day, after an increase in visitors from Hong Kong and China.

Durians from estates in Raub are highly sought after for their creaminess and bittersweet flavour that stems from the area’s soil and terrain, said Mr. Yong, 57, who began the orchard more than 30 years ago.

“People travel all the way from Singapore just to taste the durian,” he said. He recently turned down a RM5 million offer from a Chinese investor for his 4ha farm, he said.

“They offered me a good a price, but I don’t want to sell,” he said. “This is my life, my passion.”

Extracted from Bloomberg.

Source : The Funding Partners

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