Last year imports of durian to China rose 15 per cent, to nearly 350,000 tonnes totalling US$510m in value.
Reuters reported that Chinese customers will pay top dollar for the Musang King variety, prized for its bitter-sweet taste and creamy texture. Over the last five years prices for the variety are said to have nearly quadrupled.
Malaysia, who only made up one per cent of supply to China last season, has plans for expansion to cater to the growing market. Growers are planting up in preparation for access expanding from just pulp and paste to whole fruit.
M7 Plantation, a private company established last year, is developing 4,000 hectares of durian trees in Gua Musang, home to the Musang King variety. Trees are currently selling for US$1,100 each.
“We founded the company because we see potential in the industry, the primary target being China,” said chief executive Ng Lee Chin, adding that most of her buyers were from China.
Malaysia’s agricultural department told Reuters that the area under cultivation is growing, and that in some areas plantations growing palm oil are switching to durian as it’s seen as a more lucrative crop.