Malaysia farms must adapt to extreme weather, changing taste to compete for slice of

The durian consultant Mr Lim said: “From our surveys, the new flavour that the China markets is favouring is Black Thorn, which has a sweeter taste compared to Musang King which is slightly bitter.” 

“To be relevant and compete for China’s growing demand, we must be nimble to these changes in tastes and adapt quickly,” he added.

Mr Chong noted that based on data published by the agricultural ministry, Black Thorn only accounts for one per cent of Malaysia’s total durian production market while Musang King makes up 36 per cent. 

Meanwhile, kampung durians, which are mostly consumed locally, account for 38 per cent of production while D24 varieties make up 11 per cent. The rest are hybrid durian clones, which make up 14 per cent of durians produced in the country. 

However, Mr Chong predicted that this is likely to change since there is a change in trend in China, even though the Black Thorn varieties cost significantly more than the Musang King varieties.  

At the premium grade, Black Thorns typically cost RM80 per kg in Malaysia while Musang Kings cost RM50 per kg. 

“In China, the rarer the durian variety, the more attention it gets and the consumers will want a taste of it,” said Mr Chong. 

However, he maintained that Malaysia must first ensure its farms are immune to extreme weather, which will likely be exacerbated in the following years due to the impact of climate change. 

“Irregardless of which variety, if you cannot protect the crops from the weather, a Grade A premium fruit will only be a grade B or C, and you will not achieve the price and quality you desire,” said Mr Chong. 

“The physiology of fruit you desire you will not get, and the aroma you want will not be there as well,” he added. 

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