Australian sees opportunity selling durian in Singapore

After seeing a gap in the Singapore market for good quality durian, Laskaris, an Australian businessman, jumped at the opportunity. 

The 55-year-old Greek, who grew up in Perth and shuttles between Thailand and Singapore, has teamed up with Singaporean poet and copywriter Marc Ashley, 25, to open Yu Lian, a stall in Queen Street that specialises in Thai durian.

It opened about two weeks ago and brings in the fruit from southern Thailand about twice or thrice a week. They are transported by road.

In a market dominated by Malaysian durian varietals from Mao Shan Wang to D24, Thai specialist Yu Lian is indeed a rarity here.

Singapore has a big appetite for Malaysian durian. Last year, Malaysia exported more than 19,000 tonnes of durians, mostly to Singapore, according to United Nations Commodity Trade data. However, durians from Thailand, the world’s largest durian exporter, whose main market is China, are generally less popular.

Thai durians developed a bad rap among Singapore diners over the years, mostly because ones that had been sold here tended to be unripe, less aromatic and possibly of low grade. But Laskaris hopes to change consumers’ view of Thai durian.

“We want to revolutionise the durian market in Singapore. The perception here is that Malaysian durian is superior to Thai durian and we plan to change that.”

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