The Malaysian Agriculture and Food Security Ministry have asked for formal trade routes to protect the Musan King durian brand from Thai sellers who are selling it as fresh fruit to China after renaming it “Thai Musang King”.
Malaysian Deputy Agriculture and Food Security Minister Chan Foong Hin has expressed concern that Thai durian buyers are harvesting Malaysian Musang King durians before they are ripe and selling them to China as fresh fruit under the label “Thai Musang King.”
This move could damage the reputation of the Malaysian Musang King brand and hurt Malaysian farmers’ profits. The Malaysian government has raised the issue with the Thai embassy and is calling on durian farmers and exporters to look into the matter.
According to him, “durian that ripen on the tree” is the Musang King’s selling point. But instead of waiting for the durian to fall from the trees once they ripen, farmers in Raub district are harvesting them early for Thai traders who are willing to pay more than local sellers, as it doesn’t affect the taste of the fruit if they are frozen in liquid nitrogen soon after being plucked.
The price difference between local traders and Thai buyers is significant, with local traders paying MYR 30 (USD 6.55) per kg for Grade “A” Musang King, while Thai buyers purchase them for MYR 34 (USD 7.43) per kg.
Raub Crop Producers Association president Nicky Koh believes that the willingness of Thai buyers to pay higher prices for durian will lead to Malaysian durian farmers breaking away from local traders and expanding to other markets.
Moreover, harvesting Durian earlier than natural ripening increases their price in the market, while also helping farmers save on labor costs while ensuring longer shelf life.
He added that the farmers have not yet discovered what the Thai purchasers do with the Musang King durian after they have purchased and shipped it back to Thailand, whether they are labeling it as “Thai Musang King” durian, or if there is anything they can do to prevent it.
However, the Malaysian Durian Planters Association President, Dr. Tan Sue Sian, pointed out that early durian plucking can affect the quality of the fruit, whose flesh begins fermenting as soon as falls from the tree. Early plucking would require Thai traders to also time it perfectly for packing and importing to China so as to not affect its quality, a process they might not necessarily be familiar with.