KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will now be able to export frozen whole durians to China, a move that is likely to be welcomed by growers just before the peak of the fruiting season.
The announcement by the Chinese customs department on Thursday (May 30), 10 months after both countries signed a memorandum on the matter, supersedes a previous agreement where only frozen durian pulp can be exported.
Posting on his Facebook page on Friday, Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Sim Tze Tzin said the export of whole frozen durians would widen the market for Malaysian durian growers, adding that he expects prices to be stable even with the increase in demand.
He noted that Malaysia’s current total durian export only accounted for 5.8% of the durian production in the country.
At present, Malaysia exports 17,000 tonnes of durians to Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia, United States and China, he added.
“Every year, China imports 300,000 tonnes of durian, most of which originate from Thailand.
“The export of whole frozen durians will expand the market for durian growers and increase their income,” he said.
At the same time, many growers have started to plant durian commercially and therefore the increase in supply will help to keep prices stable, the minister also said.
Malaysia began exporting frozen durian pulp – in vacuum pack, with husk removed – to China in May 2011.
The product, especially the Musang King variant, is well-received by Chinese consumers, gaining a legion of loyal fans despite its high prices.
On Chinese shopping site Tmall, a box of 300g frozen Musang King pulp can be sold up to 328 yuan (US$ 48).
Riding on the popularity of the frozen durian pulp, the Malaysian government has been lobbying for frozen whole durians to be exported to China.
Its efforts culminated in the signing of an export protocol with China for frozen whole durians in August last year in Beijing, which fuelled a new wave of land conversion to durian orchards across Malaysia.
Durian farmers have been waiting for the green light from the Chinese government, with some entrepreneurial ones freezing their whole fruits in anticipation of the official announcement.
In the parliament last month, Mr Sim should 67 farms were selected to export frozen whole durians. The total size of their durian orchards is 464ha, out of the 72,646ha in the country.
Only Musang King would be exported, he added, according to the Star.