Durian has been a global sensational. Yes, global. Jimmy Kimmel tried it with Jessica Chastain on his show, Gordon Ramsay criticized it on Twitter, western kids and adults reviewed it on YouTube videos……
Although the western media’s portrayal is not always pleasant, but we Malaysians know its true worth—and in recent years, China too.
As durian season comes rolling in, here are 10 new things you need to know about the King of the Fruit:
1. Durian season this year peaks in November
There are two durian seasons in Malaysia, the first one in July and the second in November.
It is only during the dry season the durian trees can trigger the flower buds to grow into fruit after the wet monsoon seasons have passed in a year. The fruit would then take 95 to 130 days to ripe depending on cultivar.
Source: Durian Info
However, due to the rain that affected the growth of the durians in the middle of the year, it made us seem like we only have one durian season this year.
After the long wait, it is here now. Rejoice!
2. Durian Price to Drop
By rejoice, I mean drop-your-pants-and-dance rejoice. Durian party is on.
Musang King, the highest grade and sought after durian cultivar, could go as low as RM40 per kg in this month and follow.
Or at the very least RM50-60/kg, and the season may very well last until Chinese New Year (Feb 16) 2018.
This has come as a great news after durians were scarce before November.
The reason for the fluctuation is due to the supply and demand chain. The demands for durians throughout the year remained sky-high while the farmers could not keep up the supply in the middle of the year.
Not to mention that Malaysia has been exporting our beloved king to China in cargo-load as the farmers said they could get double to triple the better price than selling locally.
3. China is Lovin’ It
Durian has become the most searched word on Alibaba!
Whereas Durian King Festival (DKF 2017) happened in Nanning over past weekend was the 15th most searched entry on Weibo prior to its commence. The event was orchestrated jointly by Malaysia’s bodies: Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MOA), Rimbunan Hijau and Regal International.
150,000 people visited the event where our 4 tonnes of beloved durians were enjoyed and sold.
4. Nations’ demand for durians surge
According to Shabery, only 30% of durians nationwide is exported, the remainder would be sold in Malaysia.
While the season may have just come in, the easing of prices for the Singaporeans could be short-lived as a growing demand for durians in China could send prices higher in years to come, said observers in a Strait Times report.
China may have started to delve into our durian craze, but they are far away from our level of durian connoisseurship and their obsession is only with Musang King, The Star reports.
To meet China’s demand for Musang King, MOA is working to make Malaysia the largest exporter of the cultivar to China hereon.
The ministry also said in two years time, Malaysia is expected to ship the durians directly without to China middleman or processing.
As for now, we have 1.5 million durian trees and 500,000 musang king trees under the agriculture ministry.
We harvest 5.4 tonnes of durian per hectare on an average a year, and MOA said the yield could go up to 12.8 tonnes per hectare if farmers start practicing the new method the ministry recommends.
5. Durian is a RM1.2 Billion industry
There is a new saying that goes:
“If you own a durian orchard, you are set for life.”–Lee Ah Ying, orchard owner in Bentong, Pahang, The Star.
The minister hoped that DKF 2017 could be a start to penetrate and expand durian market in China at large.
“Should it happen, it will be a great success and will pave the way for the 800,000 durian entrepreneurs and growers in the country to boost their income, thus making the fruit a source of new wealth as suggested by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak,” he said.
Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) said that durian export value was projected to grow from RM74.39 million (2016) to RM150 million this year—doubling its total growth.
While for China specifically, it was projected to increase from RM18.02 million (2016) to RM23.4 million this year, more than a 30% increase.
There is a lot going on with our durian and China, making our relationship with China being dubbed as ‘Durian Diplomacy’ which was a continuation of the prior ‘Panda Diplomacy’ established in 1974.
With all these developments in the durian industry, we just hope that we would never durian-starve our citizens for the sake of the money.
6. Durian Orchards turn into Tourist Spots
Not just China tourists that are visiting various durian orchards across the nation, the westerners are also keen on touring the habitat of the king too.
This year, Gasik has organized four tours, with travellers coming from around the world, such as Norway, Germany, Vietnam, Australia, the United States, Ecuador and more.
7. Durian Staycation is a thing!
If you want to join the frenzy as well, Cleo curated a list of ‘Durian Staycation’.
Waking up surrounded by durians? Oh, please. Book me a room, for 12 months!
Source: Bao Sheng
Other than breathing in durians’ scent 24/7 in your cozy room, you will get to experience how the experts hunt for freshly-dropped durians, choose durians, learn about durian fruit growing process and ultimately taste the durians of different variants.
Among them, Sim Koa Yen durian villa has a total of 29 varieties of durians for the guests to taste!
8. 3rd Year of Durian Festival in Australia
Source: The Star
Not too far from us, SP Setia, a Malaysia property developer, hosted for the third time a durian festival in the iconic Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne.
More than 8,000 people flocked to the market this year as the event has been increasingly popular among Malaysians and locals there.
The event was made possible by the efforts of Malaysian Students’ Council of Australia (Masca), the Australasian Association of Melbourne University and Malaysian student volunteers despite having their year-end exams.
Thank you SP Setia and Malaysian students there for spreading the love for durian.
9. Durian doesn’t cause cholesterol spikes
In fact, it has zero cholesterol inside out according to Changi General Hospital’s Dietetics and Food Services department, Singapore.
The monounsaturated fats in a durian, ironically, can lower your harmful cholesterol levels. It’s time to share this fact with your mom so she can stop nagging at daddy and gong-gong.
With that said, that doesn’t mean you can feast on it endlessly.
Durian is high in calories. Depending on its size, it can go from 885 to 1,500 calories.
To put that into perspective, that is like swallowing four packets of Nasi Lemak when you eat a whole of a durian.
As long as you eat it in moderation, you will be fine. Durian is rich with potassium, dietary fibre, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin B complex; all the good stuff for your muscle, blood pressure, bowel movements, skin health, red blood cell formation, and nervous and immune systems.
10. Durian’s gene is related to Chocolate!
In a study led by Professor Teh of Duke-NUS Medical School Singapore, 46,000 genes were found in the durian’s full DNA sequence and the discovery traced a connection 65 million years back to the cacao plant, the very plant needed in chocolate production.
No wonder durian is so irresistible.
The study also found a group of genes that produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), the source of the durian’s distinctive smell.
The researchers said this odour could be a crucial method for the durian to attract animals to eat it in the wild and disperse its seeds as a mean of procreation.
With the fruit’s whole-genome sequence in hand, Professor Teh said it could be put to good use for agriculture and biodiversity implications.
He said the research could help to fasten the process of fruiting and ripening in durian farming, lowering the sugar level in the fruit, and its data can serve as a ‘barcode’ to authenticate the fruit’s cultivar in the market.
He also said theoretically, they could remove the distinctive smell from the durian as well.
Kudos to Professor Teh in the pursuit of durian science, but don’t take out durian’s smell please 😢