DURIAN GAINS TRACTION

Remko Tanis • 09 January 2019

PRI’s The World has an item on the growing popularity of durian, especially in China. The basketball sized fruit is famous for the spikes on its outer skin and infamous, at least in a western perception, for its pungent odor.

No smelly durians allowed in the elevator of a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

No smelly durians allowed in the elevator of a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

Durian is originally from the Southeast Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. In the region it’s known as the King of Fruits and eaten straight from the shell or baked into pancakes, frozen into ice cream and even seasonally converted into a McDonald’s McFlurry.

2018 McDonald’s ad for the Durian McFlurry, sold in Singapore. Image: McDonald’s Singapore.

2018 McDonald’s ad for the Durian McFlurry, sold in Singapore. Image: McDonald’s Singapore.

Malaysia wants to be the biggest benefactor of the Chinese durian craze. Right now China imports durians exclusively from Thailand. According to this piece in The Guardian Malaysia is ‘rushing to develop thousands of hectares to cash in on unprecedented demand from China for the fruit’.

A new deal between Malaysia and China allows for the export of whole frozen Malaysian durians to China as of this month. The Chinese durian market is already worth EUR 445 million.

Most westerners have a high intolerance for durian, being particularly put off by the strong smell. I’ve got a feeling this will change soon.

The Esplanade Theatre in Singapore is shaped like a durian. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

The Esplanade Theatre in Singapore is shaped like a durian. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

The durian has everything to replace the avocado as the next hipster fruit hit in Europe and North America. Why?

  1. It’s expensive. Last season, an average durian cost THB 70 (EUR 5) on a market in Thailand, where the average monthly income is around EUR 700.

  2. It’s weird and exotic. The spikes on the outside. The fleshy, creamy and most of all, smelly inside. Unlike anything in your local co-op thus far.

  3. It’s freakishly healthy, as long as you ignore the fat amount (which is still lower than that of the avocado). Durian has more antioxidants than any other Asian fruit.

  4. It’s really good for your skin and hair. Expect longer, healthier hair and a brighter, lighter skin complexion.

  5. Silicon Valley (always hip and until 2015 always ahead of the curve) venture capital firm 500 Startups has a specific Southeast Asia program, named 500 Durians.

Actual durians. Photo:  Kalaiarasasy/Wikipedia  under Creative Commons  CC BY-SA 3.0

Actual durians. Photo: Kalaiarasasy/Wikipedia under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Guess now is a good time to start investing in Southeast Asian durian farmers. (Note: not actual investment advice.)