The Chinese market demand for durian, which is prized by Chinese customers for its bitter-sweet taste and creamy texture, has been growing at an extraordinary pace in recent years.
Thailand, the world’s biggest durian producer and exporter, is currently the only country allowed to export whole durian to China, but a newly-reached trade agreement between Malaysian and Chinese governments will enable Malaysian farmers to export whole frozen durian directly to the huge lucrative market for the first time from next year.
Malaysia, who only accounted for one percent of China’s total imports last year, is currently expanding the area for planting durian by hundreds of hectares to cater to the growing market.
Palm oil is currently Malaysia’s most exported product, but the country plans to make durian, especially the Musang King – Chinese people’s favorite durian variety, its next big export product, since one hectare of Musang King durian can possibly yield more than nine times the revenue of palm oil. Before this year, Malaysia’s annual durian production was about 300 thousand tonnes, only 5.8 percent of which were exported to China. Now, the Malaysian government is making great efforts to encourage durian plantation, hoping to boost durian export by 50% in 2030, almost entirely to China.
“China has a huge market demand for durian, which has caused the Malaysian durian industry to change from local to global. The scale of plantation is growing. Chinese consumers pay good money for Malaysian “Musang King” durian. Prices for this durian variety are said to have increased threefold over the last five years,” said Malaysian durian industry consultant Lim Chin Khee.
China’s durian import jumped by 15% last year to reach 350 thousand tonnes worth US$510 million, according to data from China’s Ministry of Commerce. The Malaysian Ministry of Agriculture stated that there is more than normal interest in durian plantation. The overall plantation area of durian in Malaysia reached 4,800 hectares last year and expanded even further this year. Many farmers in the country are changing their crops to durian cultivation.
Facing an apparently big market, a problem for Malaysia durian exporters is how they can reach and expand the market fast and smoothly. They may face a lot of problems, apparent or potential, such as those associated with approval of market access, quality testing and certification, and warehousing in China.
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