In Malaysia, where a long lockdown has slowed domestic demand, traders are now more reliant on China's appetite for the fruit. A first lockdown in Malaysia did not do too much damage to demand but a serious Covid-19 resurgence has prompted authorities to re-impose curbs for a longer period, hitting the economy again and hammering the durian industry.
"Compared to last year, the local sales are not as good," Eric Chan, a trader and managing director of Dulai Fruits Enterprise, stated.
Many durians are already destined for China, where the virus emerged but which has largely tamed its outbreak and is once again recording economic growth. "If there are no exports, or when there is no stock for the export, I think (such a scenario) will collapse the whole industry," Top Fruits managing director Tan Sue Sian told businesstimes.com.sg.
The trade in durians has exploded over the past decade, largely driven by China's growing appetite, with prices of the once cheap fruit selling for RM60 (S$18.60) or more a kilo. The fruit was once exported to China only as pulp and paste but in 2019 officials there allowed the shipment of frozen whole fruits, in a further boost to the industry.
Durians can be found in Malaysia at all times of the year, though the fruit has bumper harvests at certain times.
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