Have you been craving durian SO MUCH that you have withdrawal symptoms, but the minute you see the price you lose your appetite (and the will to live) and want to vomit blood? Well, misery loves company… just know that durian lovers everywhere are suffering the same pain.
Durian prices are INSANE these days! Musang King (aka the best thing in the whole wide world) is going for RM90 per kg in KL, while in PJ it’s going for RM60-RM68 per kg (in April). At this point, the only way some of us can get in on the durian action is if this happens:
Seriously why are durians so expensive these days?? CILISOS asked plantation owner Tan Wui Heong (who happens to be one of our writer’s uncles). His plantation is at Karak, Pahang.
Musang King is DOUBLE the price now than two years ago
If we look at the most popular type of durian right now which is Musang King, it can cost between RM90-RM100 per kg (if you buy in KL) because it is not in season, Wui Heong told us over the phone. Compared to two years ago, the price was only HALF that at RM50 per kg during low production seasons, and if it’s in season the price will drop to RM30-RM40 per kg. Ohhhh 2015, plz come bak to us 😥
As Wui Heong explained, the price of durians is determined by DEMAND and SEASON. Another popular type of durian, the Thailand Hong Xia (aka red prawn) is only RM30 per kg because it is less in demand, he said. In terms of season, durians need long periods sunny days for the flower to bear fruit. It takes about 3-4 months for the flowers to develop into fruits. Two years ago, they had a great harvest, even better than the year before.
“So usually we get durians from May to August in West Malaysia, but this year, we have to wait until around November because of the rain.” – Wui Heong told us over the phone
Geez. Check out this durian season timetable:
For durian seasons in East Malaysia and other countries, check out this one:
During durian season, sellers in a certain area (let’s take Kuchai Lama for example) can receive a supply of up to 1,000 biji from farmers, whereas if it’s not in season, they would probably only have 100 biji. As in the shelves would look more sparse la. It’s about a 10-fold difference in the supply.
“Also there are different grades of durians. If the durian weighs above 1kg per biji, it’s a Grade A. If it’s below 1kg, it’s Grade B. The price difference between Grades A and B can be about 40%.” – Wui Heong
So actually it’s very common to see durian prices fluctuate like this depending on the season. But there’s another ‘threat’ to durian consumers…COMPETITION!
Chinese people have been buying all our durians, so no more left for us
Another reason for durian price hikes currently is China. China china china. They are having a bout of durian-tooth and have been snapping up all available fruit in the market, causing a shortage in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. 😥 Seems the Chinese love durians so much that they’ve imported 300,000 tonnes, US$568 mil (RM2.4 bil) in value from Malaysian and Thai farms. And that’s not even including the paste and other durian products. 😯
Many tours to Malaysia include a special stop just to eat durian. Director of Desaru Fruit Farm in Johor, Alice Tong said 20 to 30 busloads of tourists visit her farm every week. Local farmers are also more keen to export to China because they can earn double to triple the price!
“For every RM100 (S$32) that a Singaporean pays, the Chinese tourists pay RM200 or RM300. They also buy in bulk.” – Alice Tong, Desaru Fruit Farm Director, Channel News Asia
You wanna hear something worse? Chinese companies and businessmen are INVESTING in the King of Fruits now! What the heck does that even mean? How do you invest in durian? Apparently they’ve been buying orchards in our country to profit from the durian craze sweeping the mainland. It is reported that they own 121 hectares of durian orchards here, most with local partners. They want to handle every aspect of the business, from planting to harvesting to exporting.
So where does that leave us? HUNGRY, DUHHH!!!! 😡
Can’t we do something about the prices in Malaysia then? Want to eat la
So not only do we have to worry about durian season and the flowering and rain and sun, now we gotta fight with Chinese peepur for it. It all leads to the same conclusion…durian hella expensive in Malaysia. It gets so bad that thieves are stealing from people’s orchards.
“But this year, for the first time ever, we saw thieves. They move around by motorcycle several times a day in search of fallen durians. He claimed he was scavenging for recyclables and just wanted a couple of durians to eat. We do allow locals to eat a few for free. But the basket on his motorbike was full of durians! My farmhand confronted another motorcyclist doing the same thing and he got threatened.” – Datuk Dr Lim Seh Guan, orchard owner in Penang, Straits Times
But can’t we set ceiling price? Every year during festive seasons like CNY and Ramadan, the gomen always sends out a warning to traders not to simply hike prices or they will kena denda right? Unfortunately, the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) has no power to control and set a ceiling price for durians coz it’s not on the list of controlled items (eg. sugar, flour, cooking oil).
They can only enforce the Grading, Packaging and Labelling Regulations 2008: “Under the regulations, the seller must put on display the price, grade and source country of the fruit to make it easier for buyers to learn the features of the Musang King durian,” said Ahmad Ishak, Director-General of Fama.
Looks like we have no choice. But while consumers as sad as heck, at least Malaysian traders are making money off the Chinese.
“It’s so popular that we have a new saying here: if you own a durian orchard, you are set for life.” – Lee Ah Ying, orchard owner in Bentong, Pahang, The Star