China’s love affair with the Southeast Asian ‘King of Fruits’ is translating to a windfall for Malaysia, with MASkargo joining the durian bandwagon, flying four tonnes of the frozen whole fruit to Shanghai on its freighter yesterday.
Flight MH6170 departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) at 0600hrs with four tonnes of the frozen fruit and touched down at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) at 1735hrs after a scheduled stop in Kota Kinabalu, the carrier says.
Previously, Malaysian durians could only be shipped into China in pulp or paste form, notes Jason Thomas, MASkargo’s chief commercial officer. But with regulatory changes, frozen whole Malaysian durians can be flown into China.
“This is a great development for us in terms of expanding our business,” Thomas says. “The boom in durian export follows the deregulation by China which now allows whole durians from Malaysia to be imported. The fruits are a big hit in China and we are happy to be part of this demand. From the acceptance at our Perishable centre, these fruits are kept fresh in our cold rooms before being shipped in the temperature-controlled Envirotainers.”
The durian, which has a thorny skin that is cut open to reveal handfuls of creamy, custard-like fruit, is equally loved and despised. Known for its pungent fragrance, its detractors liken the smell with that of an open sewer.
An expected 1,000 tonnes of whole frozen durians from Malaysia are expected to enter the Chinese market each month. Durian exports are expected to contribute close to MYR 500 million (USD 120 million) to the country’s total export numbers annually, according to the country’s agriculture and agro-based industry minister, Salahuddin Ayub.
At a ceremony marking the first shipment of Durians for China, Chinese ambassador to Malaysia, Bai Tian, said there are “300-400 million mid-income customers” in China who were “all waiting for the best of the durians” to arrive.
Premium varieties of durian, such as Musang King – or Mao Shan Wang – are the one of most widely sought after in China due to its sticky, creamy texture and rich bittersweet flavour, and are expected to be sold there for USD 29 per kilogramme. Recently, Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com reported selling over 12,000 whole frozen durian fruits in just 10 hours.
“We are working very closely with the Malaysian Quarantine & Special Services Department (MAQIS) to ensure that all the stringent export requirements are met and will be putting in more efforts to the smooth operations of these shipments, as we are expecting more durians coming through our flights to China,” Thomas adds.
“At the same time, strong collaborations are in place with the ground handlers in China for seamless operations there too”, he continues. “We would like to thank the exporter, BEHO Fresh Sdn Bhd, and the durian processing factory, PHG Ever Fresh Food Sdn Bhd, for choosing MASkargo for this inaugural delivery.
“We would also like to congratulate both companies and those who have passed China’s stringent import protocol for frozen whole fruit durians into the country”, he adds.