Competition from frozen Malaysian durian puts Thai exports in prickly situation
Sales of Thai durian have come under pressure from fierce competition after China recently signed an agreement with Malaysia allowing the import of frozen durian, the Thai Durian Association posted on its Facebook page.
“Currently, China allows imports of fresh durian from Thailand only, but now frozen durian can either come from Thailand or Malaysia, which will become our competitor in the market for the king of fruits,” it said on Tuesday.
Frozen durian is exported to China either in flesh form or as a whole.
“From our survey, Malaysia has 16 factories capable of freezing the whole fruit for exports,” the Facebook post said.
Furthermore, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam are finding ways to penetrate China's market, although they have yet to be approved by the Chinese government, the association said.
“To make things worse, we have received reports that Hainan province in southern China has been successful in growing Thailand’s Mon Thong and Malaysia’s Musang King durians using advanced agricultural techniques. In future, these locally grown durians could also become our new competitors,” it said.
The association said Chinese consumers prefer ripe durian to young fruit, which presents yet another challenge for Thai exporters. “Ripe durian have a shorter shelf life and could easily become rotten more quickly, rendering a negative image of Thai fruit, while frozen durian will not have this problem,” it pointed out.
“With the sheer size of its population – some 1.4 billion – China is Thailand’s biggest fruit export market with up to 22 Thai fruits being allowed into the country by the Chinese government,” the association said.
“Durian is among the top selection by Chinese consumers, and many restaurants have included durian in their new menus, such as durian pizza, durian puffs and durian pies,” the association added.