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Malaysia Remains Confident Despite China’s Growing Durian Industry

Malaysia Remains Confident Despite China’s Growing Durian Industry

Southeast Asian countries closely monitor China’s progress in the durian industry as it could become a major rival.

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China’s durian industry is making strides, causing concern among Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia.

Chinese growers have been cultivating tropical fruits in Hainan province since the 1950s, with durian cultivation taking off in 2020.

Hainan is preparing for its first durian harvest this year, with about 2,450 tonnes expected to go on sale next month.

Although Malaysia exports high-end frozen durians to China, the country remains confident that the Chinese tropical fruit crop will not replace imports anytime soon.

SCMP reported that Malaysian durian expert Lim Chin Khee visits China every two months to help farmers grow the fruit.

He believes it’s more of a compliment than competition between China and Malaysia.

Challenges Facing China’s Durian Industry

Lim said he did not expect tropical fruit production in China to skyrocket because growers had to pay rent for farmland instead of owning it outright, and typhoons would occasionally wipe out their crops.

Hainan’s subtropical climate produced durians that were no match for the quality of fruits grown in Thailand and Malaysia, which already had an enviable reputation in China.

However, Hainan’s fruit production could take off with ambition, automation, and lower prices, shaking Southeast Asian self-confidence.

The year-old Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade liberalisation deal cut tariffs on Southeast Asian fruits bound for China, helping Philippine mangoes, coconuts, and durians reach China.

They are waiting to see whether an island with a slightly smaller area than Taiwan could eventually replace imports as growing techniques improve.

Last year, China imported more than 824,000 tonnes of fresh durians worth more than USD4 billion (RM18.5 billion).

That volume of the thorny-skinned fruit with a love-it-or-hate-it smell was about four times more than in 2017.

READ MORE: Durian Liqueur Incorporating The Most Expensive Durian Hybrid, The Musang King Durian

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