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Investors sizing up the world's most controversial fruit

Asian durian craze starting?

Since the turn of this decade, Malaysia's durian exports to China have soared. From merely 40 tonnes in 2011, shipments of durians from Malaysia into China have skyrocketed to 368 tonnes worth US$ 4.34 million in 2016.

The trade came about after China's then-premier Wen Jiabao visited Malaysia in 2011: he then sanctioned the import of Malaysian durians. But still only the "Musang King" variety in frozen pulp form is allowed, and not the whole durian. Thailand currently has a virtual monopoly of the Chinese durian market; durian varieties in Thailand are harvested just before they ripen, making overseas shipments convenient. Malaysian durians, on the other hand, are harvested after ripening, limiting the country to nearer export markets like Singapore.

For now, Singapore remains Malaysia's largest export market for durians, buying 16,600 tonnes worth US$ 7.97 million in 2016. But Malaysia is in talks with China to approve whole-fruit durian exports, which Malaysia's agriculture minister said in late-2017 could be achieved within a year.

According to The Straits Times, concerns are simmering that in the years to come, consumers in Singapore will have to fork out more for their durian fix, and that the choicest fruits will go to China, where buyers have deeper pockets.

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