KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 — Durian producers in the country have warned consumers that they will need to fork out more for the fruit as production fell by 60 per cent this year.
According to The Malaysian Insight (TMI), they gave two reasons for the rise in prices: the high cost of fertilisers due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the closure of the Shanghai port due to the month-long citywide lockdown, which has had an adverse impact on exports.
The producers also said durian crops, which are usually harvested in May, were affected by heavy rain.
This led to a 60 to 80 per cent reduction in the Musang King and Black Thorn varieties in Penang, Johor and Pahang, they added.
Heng Mee Oo, owner of Orcheeking Enterprise, was quoted as saying that an orchard, which can expect to produce 10 tonnes of durians a season, may only harvest two tonnes this year due to the poor weather.
Heng said a Black Thorn currently costs RM100 per kilogram compared to its usual price of between RM75 and RM80 per kilogram.
He said prices had been further pushed up due to high operating costs, labour shortage, soaring transport costs, and rising fuel and fertiliser prices.
“Previously, fertiliser used to cost RM3,000 a tonne. Now it has doubled to RM6,000 a tonne. Our costs have gone up fivefold,” he was quoted as saying.
A box of Musang King currently costs RM800 to RM900, while Black Thorn costs RM1,200.
Since 2016, Malaysia’s durian exports have grown to 107 per cent, which translates to RM74.8 million.
In 2016, Malaysia exported durians worth RM69.9 million, followed by RM59 million in 2017, RM125 million in 2018, RM127 million in 2019 and RM145 million in 2020.
Meanwhile, Top Fruits managing director Tan Sue Sian said the export of frozen durians is expected to be 50 per cent lower than last year.
He said production had decreased despite the high demand from China.
“The price of durians this season will be very expensive. Musang King will not be less than RM60/kg.
“I believe consumers will be more prudent, but durian lovers will still buy them despite high prices,” he said.
Tan said the time had come to explore new ways of cultivation and reduce producers’ dependence on labour and fertilisers.
“We need to encourage automation in planting to reduce our dependence on manpower and reduce the use of fertilisers at the same time.
“Our company is slowly starting to automate and move towards smart agriculture,” he said.
Eric Chan, the managing director of Dulai Fruits Enterprise, said the lockdown in China due to its zero-Covid strategy has been challenging because there is a lot of uncertainty, especially when it comes to logistics.
He expects the company’s sales to decrease by 30 per cent this year due to the Shanghai port closure.
“Transport costs increased significantly, while the main fruit distribution centre and the largest wholesale fruit market in Shanghai are closed,” he said.