Chinese consumers consider the Malaysian durian to be a restorative fruit. The fruit can help the body produce heat. That is why Chinese consumers prefer to eat durian in the winter. The peak period of the Malaysian durian sales season begins every year in December. Mr. He, manager of Malaysia New Leaf Plantation Berhad Co., Ltd., recently talked about current conditions in the Malaysian durian industry and the Chinese market for Malaysian durian.
Some of the trees in major orchards in Pahang are already dropping small volumes of Malaysian durian. New Leaf Plantation Berhad has already sold the first durian from their orchard. The company sells Malaysian durian via online intermediaries and delivers directly from the plantation to customers in Hong Kong and Singapore.
The company team gathers fresh durian based on the orders they receive online. The durian is then immediately processed in on-site processing facilities and packaged. Less than 24 hours later the durian arrives at the customer’s address. A 10-kg durian sold to customers in Hong Kong costs around 990 Malaysian ringgit (USD 242.50).
“Although processing factories temporarily closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the orchards continued to operate as usual. The orchard requires fertilization, irrigation, pruning, and a variety of other tasks. Plantation personnel continued to take care of these tasks to guarantee both production volume and product quality,” explained manager He. “We expected the market to decline because of the pandemic, but we have seen positive developments in the second half of this year. Not only did the sales volume of refrigerated durian not decline, the sales volume increased instead. There are two reasons for this development. First, the price of durian is relatively high because this is a high-end market product. The consumers who can afford to buy durian are generally not affected by the pandemic as much as other consumers. Their consumer power remains high. Second, people usually stayed at home during the pandemic. This actually raised the consumption volume of fruit. Data from our domestic sales in Malaysia shows that the express delivery orders for durian rapidly grew.”
The market demand for Malaysian Musang King durian has rapidly grown in Laos, Vietnam, and China in the last few years. Malaysia obtained permission last year to export whole durian to China. Since then, many durian plantation owners have seen the market potential in China and they are gradually expanding the overall surface area devoted to durian plantation. “But durian trees only bear fruit after five years. The current supply volume is still limited. Market demand exceeds supply, so the price remains high. The price of Musang King durian is around 55 Malaysian ringgit [13.47 USD] per kg, which is 15% higher than last year’s price of 40-45 Malaysian ringit [9.80-11.02 USD] per kg,” said manager He.
New Leaf Plantation Berhad is an export company specialized in Malaysian durian. While continuing to maintain the original plantation, this year the company expanded the overall surface area devoted to durian plantation with 100 hectares in Bentong, western Pahang. This supplement should help satisfy growing market demand in China.
The New Leaf team also continues to improve AI recognition technology in their plantation to help improve the product quality. Every tree features a unique identifier which is scanned every time plantation personnel performs a procedure. The system contains information on durian tree variety, fertilization and irrigation volumes, plant disease records, and the time of harvest. Plantation personnel can easily access all of this information to see if a tree requires fertilization or irrigation. This greatly improves efficiency in the New Leaf Plantation and also helps to reduce labor cost.