Strong year for durian, Malaysia's sellers get a helping hand from Shopee

Fama is anticipating a lower-than-normal yield of below 300,000 metric tonnes due to high rainfall of late and manpower issues due to the movement control order (MCO). ― Picture by KE Ooi
Fama is anticipating a lower-than-normal yield of below 300,000 metric tonnes due to high rainfall of late and manpower issues due to the movement control order (MCO). ― Picture by KE Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 — It’s already the middle of the year, which also marks the durian season.

However, the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) is anticipating a lower-than-normal yield of below 300,000 metric tonnes due to high rainfall of late and manpower issues due to the movement control order (MCO).

Despite the challenges, Fama expects 2020 to be an optimistic year for the durian industry with most durian sellers foreseeing demand to remain strong domestically and internationally, especially from Singapore and China.

Fama encourages durian industry players to embrace e-commerce to boost their sales with the new normal taking precedence, with many already going online luring durian enthusiasts to savour the king of fruits right at home.

Durian aficionados are also looking for the fruit online and the testament to this is that e-Commerce platform Shopee has noted the word “durian” trending in the keyword search on its platform, signifying consumers’ interest on the fruit as the season kicks off.

Shopee said its platform has organically attracted durian farmers from across the country as they started taking their offerings of D24, Musang King, XO, Hor Lor, Udang Merah and more online. Many have been seen to be creative with their own campaigns like Duduk Rumah, Makan Durian (Stay Home, Eat Durians).

However, will the durian lovers get the same taste of the fruit like buying them from the stalls or eating them right at the orchards?

Leow E Shuen, co-founder and business manager of Shan Cheng Durian Penang, said there were many things to consider when going online.

“Freshness of the durian is one of them. To ensure that our customers receive the best quality, we collect the durians from the farm in the morning, open and repack them into boxes and vacuum pack them before they go out for delivery on the same day.

“With so many sellers online competing for sales, it boils down to quality, service and price to win the crowd,” said Leow.

He said the MCO imposed to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the company’s businesses adversely in many ways beyond just sales — even tourists have shied away from visiting its 5.3 hectare farm in Balik Pulau, Penang.

Another durian entrepreneur, Mountain Cat Durian, saw the sales of processed products from durian such as durian puffs and ice cream went down by 50 per cent due to the pandemic.

This was due to the low business-to-business (B2B) demand from the bakeries and confectioneries, as well as the food and beverage merchants.

Besides the poorer sales, the Puchong-based company with a 8.8 hectare durian orchard in Broga, Negri Sembilan, also has to bear with overhead expenses such as labour and factory commitments.

“With our offline and B2B sales being hit amid rising costs, we realised it was time for us to explore an offline-to-online model to sustain the business and ensure that our durians do not go to waste. Prior to selling online, we only had a few orders in a month. However, now on Shopee, we receive orders every day.

“The current circumstance is an eye opener for us, it showed us that we cannot be complacent in our approach by ignoring the digital world,” shared Ma Tuck Mun, founder of Mountain Cat. Their Musang King pulp is currently their bestseller on Shopee.

In a bid to help the durian sellers sustain their incomes and give Malaysians the taste of durian, Shopee will be featuring both Shan Cheng Durian and Mountain Cat along with 500 other durian and fruit sellers in its 6.6 Super Sale happening from now until June 6, 2020.

Ian Ho, regional managing director of Shopee noted that durians will be on Shocking Sale at RM0.66 with an added 10 per cent in-store discount for selected sellers throughout the campaign.

“The effects of Covid-19 have translated into many other aspects of our lives beyond our health. It has hindered us from activities we love like bonding with friends and family over durian. However, that doesn’t mean that we cannot still enjoy durian or treat our loved ones to some.

“With more durian sellers coming online, Malaysians can get them from our platform to be enjoyed safely at home. Furthermore, our local sellers need our continued support for the sake of our economy. That is why besides featuring them in our campaigns like the 6.6 Super Sale, Shopee is committed to keeping our platform cost-effective.

“We also caution all sellers to ensure that they are able to fulfil the orders — supply, packaging and logistics — prior to selling. We understand that this may be daunting for first-time online sellers and as such, assigned a dedicated team to assist those in need of help. They can reach out to us at http://tiny.cc/shopeefresh and we will be in touch,” said Ho.

For even more savings on a wide assortment of products, deals start from only RM0.66; enjoy free shipping with a minimum spend of RM16, as well as score daily RM6 vouchers this 6.6 Super Sale.

There will also be a 6.6 Shopee Live Festival featuring Taiwanese pop stars Alien Huang, Emma Wu, Tiffany Hsu, Sam Tseng and Blaire Chang, as well as local stars Nabila Razali, Pongpong, Shalma Eliana and Yonnyboii. The session will culminate with Malaysia’s queen of pop Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza on 6 June. Users can also play Shopee Poly, Shopee Treasure Box, Shopee Catch, Flip & Match, and more to stay entertained. — Bernama

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