GEORGE TOWN, July 16 — The Balik Pulau durian season is in full swing in Penang but instead of relying only on the domestic market, durian sellers have taken to social media to sell the pungent fruits to customers in other states.
Many of the durian sellers saw a dip in business due to Covid-19 restrictions on cross-district and interstate travel this year but Lee Eng Leong of 638 Balik Pulau Durian has a long list of customers from all over the country.
Lee turned to e-commerce and started promoting his durians online, first on Facebook last year, then by signing up for the Penang Island City Council's (MBPP) Jom Beli Online (JBO) initiative this year.
“My revenue from selling durians online was a record high compared to other years before going online,” he said.
The demand for his durians is so good that he even arranges for his durians to be delivered to Kuala Lumpur a few times a week.
Lee, who took over the business from his father about five years ago, has a durian orchard covering 60 to 70 acres in Balik Pulau that can produce between 2,000 to 3,000 kilogrammes of durians per day at the peak of the durian season in June.
Orders can be made through his Facebook page: Leong 638 Durian.
Then there are those who are not growers but have made a business out of delivering Balik Pulau durians to customers outside Penang.
Jude Nagalingam owns an events management company but the pandemic meant he suddenly found himself with a lot of time on his hands.
So he pivoted to delivering durians from Balik Pulau to Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and even Langkawi.
“I have friends who are durian farm owners and since I am free, I talked to them about delivering durians to customers who order from me,” he said.
Jude started the impromptu business venture last year and this year, he has set up a new Facebook page, Kebun Simfoni, to manage the growing number of orders.
He said he has an expanding list of customers in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Langkawi.
He even has clients from Singapore who would order durians for their friends, relatives and business associates in Malaysia.
“We have an eat now, pay later scheme where customers can pay in three to four instalments,” he said.
He said they have durian sets of RM180 to RM200 for four boxes of durians so customers can opt to pay for that in installments.
Now that the Balik Pulau durian season is coming to an end, he said he has durian farmer contacts in Raub so he can deliver Musang King, D24, Ang Heh and X.O. durians to customers all over Malaysia.
“We are bringing lorries of durians from Raub from this week onwards until the season ends in August,” he said.
Another durian seller who delivers durians down to Kuala Lumpur two to three times a week is Penang Ah Teik Durian.
Ah Teik Durian’s stall at Lorong Susu used to get customers from other states and Singapore during the durian season.
However, due to the travel restrictions, they have to resort to durian deliveries and accept orders from other states for delivery.
“We will drive the durians down to Kuala Lumpur if we get four to five orders so it is best that customers pre-order with us,” Ah Teik said.
He added they also deliver to Kedah and Ipoh if there are orders from customers there.
Orders can be placed on his Facebook page: Penang Ah Teik Durian.
Another durian farm, Balik Pulau Soon Huat Durian, not only sells durians but also duku langsat, king cempedak, petai and chilli padi.
Chang Poo Cheng said he has all the popular durian varieties such as Black Thorn, Musang King, Ang Heh, Lipan, 604 and Khun Poh that customers can pre-order for delivery.
“We will send down to customers in Kuala Lumpur a few times a week, depending on the number of orders we get but now we are nearing the end of season, so supplies are less,” he said.
“I will promote what we have for the day on our Facebook page so that customers can order if they want and of course, delivery charges will apply,” he said.
Orders can be made on his Facebook at: Durian Soon Huat.
The Balik Pulau durian season in Penang usually starts in late May and will come to an end at the end of July or early August, depending on weather conditions.