Have durian prices spiked?
Vendors predict falling prices, but lower-quality fruit
Durian lovers have been keeping away from their favourite fruit after recent reports of an expected hike in prices, said some durian vendors.
It was reported that weather woes have delayed the king of fruits' peak season, which is usually from June to July.
As a result, customers would have to pay more for durians of lower quality.
Another report indicated that countries such as China, where the fruit has been finding more fans, were competing for the crop, with customers there willing to pay more. But the vendors interviewed refuted this.
The owner of Kong Lee Hup Kee Trading, Mr Chia Boon Huat, 62, who has been in the business for more than 40 years, noticed a drop in sales after the reports.
He told The New Paper: "Some customers were under the impression that prices were too steep. And unless they are my regulars, they won't call me to check."
Ms Angeline Chong, 45, a teacher, admitted that she had "cut down on my durian dates" from four times a week to just once a week.
"I felt that it was quite pricey. As much as I love to eat durians, I felt the pinch," she said.
At one point, 1kg of the premium Mao Shan Wang cost $22 to $24, compared to $18 last year.
But out of five popular durian vendors approached, three dismissed the price hikes.
Mr Chia said he had started selling this season's crop early last month at $24 for 1kg until last week, when the price dropped to $22.
"That was the first round, and naturally, it can be a little higher," he explained.
By Monday, prices had gone down to $16 for 1kg of Mao Shan Wang and Mr Chia expects it to drop to $13 during the peak season in July and August.
Madam Linda Ang, 50, who works at Combat Durian, which was started by her father, is also confident that prices will come down.
She said: "We predict that it will drop to about $14 or $15 for 1kg of Mao Shan Wang."
Combat Durian currently sells Mao Shan Wang at $16 to $18 a kilogram.
But it will still be a longer wait for customers, as this year's peak season will be a month later than usual due to the bad weather in Malaysia, where the fruit is usually grown.
The first and second harvests of Mao Shan Wang, which come primarily from Pahang, Malaysia, were also not as bountiful as in previous years.
Mr Chia admitted that this year's quality of durians is not as good.
"It is not as fragrant and the flesh is not as creamy," he said.
A vendor, who wanted to be known only as Mr Shui, 57, said: "There was a drought in Malaysia in March and the flowers all died.
"For the first harvest, we collected only 20 per cent. That shows how low the yield of quality durian is."
But "there is hope" as the durian trees are still bearing fruit, said Mr Chia.
And the good news is that durian lovers will have two months, instead of the usual one month, to feast on varied crops.
"In July, people can expect bittersweet Mao Shan Wang, while we will get the bitter ones in August," said Mr Chia.
"The quality of the next batch of durians will definitely be better than last month, even though it won't be as good as those in the past years."
A spokesman for Ah Di Dempsey Durian, which has been in operation for the past 30 years, said the price of durians can be unpredictable as it depends on the weather.
He said: "What can I do? I depend on the weather for the durians."
POPULAR TYPES OF DURIANS
MAO SHAN WANG
WHAT Bittersweet with a sticky and creamy texture
WHERE Pahang, Malaysia
BEST TIME Late July
PRICE $13 a kilogram
WHAT Very creamy and bitter
WHERE Pahang, Malaysia
BEST TIME Mid-July
PRICE $10 to $12 a kilogram
ST FILE PHOTOS
WHAT Slightly sticky with a sweet aftertaste
WHERE Johor, Malaysia
BEST TIME Early August
PRICE $8 to $12 a kilogram