Malaysia Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MOA) Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub signed the new protocol with China’s General Administration of Customs Minister Ni Yuefeng in Beijing.
This follows closely from the successful opening of Chinese market access to Malaysian pineapples last year, a significant achievement in light of China’s strict biosecurity and food safety regulations.
A spokesman from MOA stated that: “This agreement reflects on China’s confidence in Malaysian agricultural products, whether it is from a hygiene, safety or quality point of view.”
More than 250 million tonnes of durian are imported into China every year. The Musang King variety, in particular, is driving the craze with extremely high demand in the country, and prices can go up to USD 73 (RM300) per kilogramme.
The swell in demand for durian, known as the king of fruits in Malaysia, also led to increased interest in large-scale durian farming in the country. This resulted in a bumper crop earlier in June this year that sent prices of some smaller varieties plummeting to as low as USD 0.24 (RM1) per unit in July.
Musang King prices dropped from USD 30.52 (RM125) per kilogramme in 2017 to USD 12.21 to USD 15.87 (RM50 to RM65) per kilogramme in March.
In China, according to Mintel’s The Chinese Consumer 2017 report, over half of all consumers are willing to pay a higher price for better product performance (e.g. better taste), and this translates to durian as well.
Durian is expected to bring in more revenue for Malaysia in the near future, with high hopes that exports of fresh whole Musang King to China will be approved in 2019.
The rise of durian products
A large part of the appeal of durian in China lies revolves around its use as an ingredient in various products, especially across the dairy and bakery sectors.
The China Mengniu Dairy Company uses the D24 variety of durian in its flavoured yoghurt, and also produces durian-flavoured ice cream.
An enormous variety of cakes and pastries with durian filling are also widely available in China, from mooncakes to cookies. More significantly, one of the major avenues of sale for these products is via e-commerce, where sites like Taobao and JD.com are strong players. JD.com even holds a Super Durian Day annually.
Loris Li, Food and Drink Analyst for Mintel China, said that: “Chinese consumers are open to trying different foods which incorporate durian fruit.”