It’s nearing the middle of the year, which also marks the durian season. However, the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) is anticipating a lower-than-normal yield of below 300,000 tonnes due to high rainfall of late and manpower issues due to the movement control order (MCO).
Despite the challenges, FAMA expects 2020 to be an optimistic year for the durian industry with most durian sellers foreseeing demand to remain strong domestically and internationally, especially from Singapore and China.
FAMA encourages durian industry players to embrace e-commerce to boost their sales with the new normal taking precedence, with many already going online luring durian enthusiasts to savour the king of fruits right at home.
Durian aficionados are also looking for the fruit online; proof for this is that e-Commerce platform Shopee has noted the word “durian” trending in the keyword search on its platform, signifying consumers’ interest on the fruit as the season kicks off.
Shopee said its platform has organically attracted durian farmers from across the country as they started taking their offerings of D24, Musang King, XO, Hor Lor, Udang Merah and more online. Many have been seen to be creative with their own campaigns.
However, will the durian lovers get the same taste of the fruit like buying them from the stalls or eating them right at the orchards?
Leow E Shuen, co-founder and business manager of Shan Cheng Durian Penang, said there were many things to consider when going online. “Freshness of the durian is one of them. To ensure that our customers receive the best quality, we collect the durians from the farm in the morning, open and repack them into boxes and vacuum pack them before they go out for delivery on the same day. With so many sellers online competing for sales, it boils down to quality, service and price to win the crowd,” said Leow.
He said the MCO imposed to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the company’s businesses adversely in many ways beyond just sales — even tourists have shied away from visiting its 5.3 hectare farm in Balik Pulau, Penang.
Another durian entrepreneur, Mountain Cat Durian, saw the sales of processed products from durian such as durian puffs and ice cream went down by 50 per cent due to the pandemic.
This was due to the low business-to-business (B2B) demand from the bakeries and confectioneries, as well as the food and beverage merchants.