Durian, which used to be a normal meal of the people, just like rambutans and mangosteens, is now beyond the reach of the common man.
It has been promoted as the king of fruits not so much because of its taste or medicinal value, but more because its price is like a king’s ransom.
Only the well-heeled can enjoy this delicacy. Some people are willing to part with a hefty sum to savour the pungent flesh.
A single standard variety costs from RM30 per kg, while the high-end variety, like the black thorn, costs RM300 per kg (RM800 a fruit).
Depending on the size and weight of the fruit, one may get at the most 10 pieces of yellowish or off-white flesh. A single flesh may cost RM10 apiece for the standard variety.
For low-income households, the opportunity cost of buying a durian is the price of a square meal for a family of four, the equivalent of 10 plates of nasi kandar.
The money could instead be used to cook several meals.
During this difficult time, people need to be prudent in their food expenditure.
Even in normal times, it is inappropriate to spend on non-essential items, and durians should not factor in your food expenditure.
At current prices, suppliers are making huge profits. But in a free market economy, prices are determined by supply and demand.
What more, the fruit is exported to China and Singapore where the fruits are sold at exorbitant prices.
So the king of fruits has been priced out for common folk.
Like the durian, there are many other things that are out of reach of most people.
The authorities are hard put to manage the plight of the low income group.
The government should regulate the prices of essentials. And the durian is one example of the spiralling cost of living.