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Thai Monthong faces Malaysia's ‘King’ in battle for China’s durian market

 

The Nation/Asia News Network

 /  Tue, October 13, 2020  /  01:58 pm
Thai Monthong faces Malaysia's ‘King’ in battle for China’s durian market

A fruit war has broken out in China, where Malaysia’s Musang King is battling with Thailand’s Monthong to conquer the increasingly lucrative durian market. (Shutterstock/gowithstock)

A fruit war has broken out in China, where Malaysia’s Musang King is battling with Thailand’s Monthong to conquer the increasingly lucrative durian market.

The Royal Thai Consulate-General in Nanning, China, said Kuala Lumpur had stepped up its game in early October, bombarding Guangxi region with over 1,000 tons of Musang King durian for the “Durian Malaysia 2020” event.

Malaysia is exploiting “new normal” marketing channels, both online and offline, to tempt Chinese consumers with free samples and durian priced as low as 1 yuan (US$0.15). As a result, Malay durian are fast becoming popular in China, with October’s promotion netting sales of 340,000 durians worth over 70 million yuan.

“Durian Malaysia 2020” also gives Malaysian entrepreneurs the chance to test Chinese tastes for processed products, including durian French fries, durian beverages, coffee, tofu drinks, liquor, mooncakes and ice cream.

Thailand has always been the largest exporter of fresh durian to China, where the biggest markets are Guangxi and Guangdong province. However, Monthong’s status as the durian king in China is now being threatened by Musang King, which Chinese consumers have dubbed "Maoshan Wang" and the “Hermes of durian”.

Read also: Odorous package of durian sends six to hospital in Germany, prompts evacuation of building

Over the past five years, the retail price of Musang King durian has risen 300 percent after China began importing whole frozen durian from Malaysia. The price of Malay durian shot up from Bt60-75 per kilo last year to Bt225-300 this year, with premium varieties such as Musang King, Ochee and Sultan sold out.

The Malaysian government has urged farmers to expand durian cultivation, forecasting that by 2030 export volume will increase 50 percent and Musang King production more than double. Malaysia plans to increase its market share of frozen durian exported to China from 50 percent to 75 percent in the near future.

Durian are sold in China via online marketplaces such as the T-Mall website.

Si Hao, T-Mall’s operations manager for Food, Vegetable, Fruit and Cool Business Group, said most durian traders on T-Mall sell Monthong – which makes up more than 80 percent of the Chinese market – and Chanee durian. However, Malaysian durian entered the fast-expanding online market by using nitrogen-freezing technology that extends the fruit’s expiry date from five days to 18 months and overcomes seasonal restrictions.

Last year, durian was China’s top fruit import with a total value of US$1.6 billion (up 47 percent), surpassing fresh cherries at $1.4 billion for the first time. China currently allows durian shipments from Thailand and Malaysia, but Vietnam and the Philippines are now negotiating to gain access to China’s durian market.

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This article appeared on The Nation newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post