A thorny issue: Weather blamed for poor durian harvest, spike in prices unavoidable

A thorny issue: Weather blamed for poor durian harvest, spike in prices unavoidable
TODAY file photo
Published: 7:05 PM, September 10, 2017

GEORGETOWN — Durian prices had shot up this year following a shortage of supply of the King of Fruits.

Durian orchard owner Lim Chong Teng, 67, said the supply of the durians had been affected due to the weather.

“The uncertain weather, especially the unusual heat, has affected the harvest.

“Over the past few years, the durian harvest has been dropping gradually, with this year being the worst hit.

“In fact, this year, the harvest season also started later than usual,” he said, when met at his farm in Balik Pulau here.

Mr Lim, who had been running the farms for decades after inheriting it from his father, said the weather had also affected the quality of the harvest as well.

“Previously, you can get a good fruit with milky and sweet flesh from even the normal types of durian but these days even the more famous varieties such as Black Thorn and Musang King could be ‘bland’.

“This situation makes it hard for us durian orchard owners and sellers as our customers expect good quality fruits,” he said, as he deftly pries open one durian after the next in mere seconds for the many customers at his farm.

Mr Lim said the low supply of durians paired with the robust demand for the fruit had led to an increase in the market price of durians.

“I have not changed my prices much except for a slight increase in the prices of Black Thorn and Musang King prices,” he added.

A durian seller along Jalan Balik Pulau, who wished to be known only as Tan, said he has increased his durian prices as the orchard owners have hiked up their prices.

“We have no control of the prices, which is set by the orchard owners.

“Since their supply is low and the demand is still there, the farm owners are charging more to cover their cost and get their usual profit,” he said.

He said the demand for the fruit has led to many charging more than RM100 (S$31.94) per kilogram for varieties such as Black Thorns, which used to be sold at RM40 to 60 per kilogram.

“That’s why you have reports and complaints from people that four fruits can go for nearly RM1,000 since each fruit can cost up to RM200.

“Some of my customers are even willing to pay up to RM3,000 for the good ones such as Black Thorn for their events,” he said.

Mr Tan predicts that the prices of durians would only go up in the coming years as he doubts the harvest or weather would improve much.

“Some of us are speculating that durians would cost more than gold one day,” he said. NEW STRAITS TIMES