Malaysia’s Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (Fama) is expecting lower-than-normal durian yields this season at below 300,000 metric tonnes.
Fama said conditions challenging the industry include high rainfall, farms lacking manpower support due to the Movement Control Order (MCO), and the prohibition of communal activities like squatting by roadside stalls and enjoying durians as the country battles COVID-19.
However, Fama still expects 2020 to be an optimistic year for the durian industry. A spokesperson said: “Most durian sellers foresee demand to remain strong domestically and internationally, especially from the Singaporean and Chinese markets with China’s economy beginning to recover. Malaysians may not be able to enjoy it by the roadside this year but consumption will remain strong in line with their love for durian,” Fama said in a joint press statement with Shopee.
Fama also encouraged sellers to embrace e-commerce to boost their sales during this challenging period.
For Mountain Cat Durian, the Covid-19 outbreak impacted the sales of its processed products such as durian puffs and ice cream by 50 per cent due to the low business-to-business (B2B) demand from the bakery and confectionery sector, as well as the food and beverage merchants.
The Puchong-based company, whose 20-acre farm is in Broga, Negeri Sembilan, also experienced financial struggles from the overhead expenses such as labour and factory commitment.
“With our offline and B2B sales being hit amid rising cost pressures, we realised it was time for us to explore an offline-to-online model to sustain the business and ensure that our durians do not go to waste. Prior to selling online, we only had a few orders in a month; but now on Shopee, we receive orders every day. The current circumstance is an eye opener for us — it showed us that we cannot be complacent in our approach by ignoring the digital world,” Mountain Cat founder Ma Tuck Mun told The Borneo Post.