For years, Thailand, the world’s leading durian producer, has dominated China’s imports for the fruit, accounting for roughly 40 percent of the massive market. But of late, Chinese consumers have been getting a whiff of an alternative to Thai durians: the premium Musang King variety from Malaysia’s sprawling durian plantations.
Malaysian durian exports to China have soared 15 percent since 2017 to about 350,000 tons today, and it seems durian lovers there are hungry for more.
In May of this year, the Chinese customs administration approved the import of frozen whole durians from Malaysia, just in time to kick off the durian season from June to September. Though Malaysia has been exporting frozen durian pulp to China since 2011, the new agreement allows the whole fruit to be shipped to China, where premium durians are rapidly gaining popularity.
Demand has risen so sharply that some have forked out top dollar, up to US$150 (€134), for a frozen, whole Musang King durian from Malaysia. Last year, the country produced 350 million kilograms of durians, of which only 5 percent was exported overseas.
Many local orchards have started to ramp up its production of durians, a strong sign that they recognize this as a growth opportunity,” said Sim Tze Tzin, Malaysia’s deputy minister for agriculture and agro-based industry.