PETALING JAYA, July 19 — The movement control order (FMCO) has been more than just a thorn in the side of local durian sellers.
While June and July is typically the peak season for durian lovers to flock to outdoor stalls and savour the king of fruits, there’s no such thing happening today.
The no dine-in rule means durian shops have now gone quiet with the only bustle coming from employees packing orders for delivery.
Durian King owner Erik Ong told Malay Mail that business has dropped by 50 per cent compared to the recovery MCO last year and they now have to rely on delivery to stay afloat.
“Ninety per cent of our business used to come from walk-in customers and dine-in.
“Since MCO and the total lockdown, it’s affected us pretty badly.
“People can’t dine-in or go out anymore. We have to 100 per cent rely on delivery services now,” said Ong.
Ong, who is based in TTDI, said that the six-month loan moratorium in 2020 gave people more spending power which led to an uptick in durian sales.
Now, Ong said Durian King only sells 400 to 500 kilogrammes of durian on a good day.
It’s a sharp drop compared to the 1,500 kilogrammes it used to sell daily this time last year.
Ong added that some delivery providers charge high commissions which force sellers to mark up their prices to avoid more losses.
With the pandemic already burning a hole in people’s pockets, Ong said that delivery platforms need to work closely with merchants to find a sustainable way for businesses to survive.
“Some delivery providers aren’t helping because they take a 20 to 30 per cent commission, so we have to increase the price of our durians just to tie up with them.
“At the end of the day, the customer pays more because of the commission and that doesn’t help.”
Rizky Durian owner Romi Hidayat Zainintawa told Malay Mail that it’s been a challenge for him as well because durian farmers are still charging high prices despite an abundant harvest this year.
Some sellers have to lower the prices of their durians and absorb the costs to ensure that customers keep coming back.
“The problem is that there are too many fruits but the price does not go down accordingly.
“We at Rizky Durian decided to lower the price of durian ourselves.
“There are fewer customers because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but that just means we have to hustle online now,” said Romi, who operates out of Taman Medan and Kota Damansara.
With fewer walk-in customers, taking their business online is now a matter of survival for many durian sellers.
Facing piles of unsold durians every day is also another major headache sellers have to deal with.
Durian Man manager Cheah Kim Wai told Malay Mail that fresh durians won’t taste as good if they’re not sold within the day of their arrival at the shop.
“Our fresh durian won’t be as delicious if it doesn’t get sold within the day.
“That’s why we have to rely on self pick-up, delivery, and doing livestreams where we lower our prices and offer promotions to our customers.
“Only then can we make a living. Now, all durian shops have to adapt to survive,” said Cheah, who works in Petaling Jaya.
He said that unsold durians will eventually get sent for processing to be made into durian paste.
The paste will then be sold to manufacturers making durian-flavoured products like mooncakes and other sweet treats.