GEORGE TOWN: Durian lovers will have to fork out more as the prices for the King of Fruits are expected to be at least 30% higher this year due to lower produce and increasing fertiliser costs.
Durian expert Lim Chin Khee, who is a consultant for the industry, said rainy weather from the end of March to April in various parts of the country had led to the durian trees producing less than half of their yield last year.
“When it rains, the leaves start to flush, causing a competition in nutrients for development between fruits and flowers.
“It takes between 90 and 100 days from anthesis (the flowering of the buds) to the maturity of durian fruits.
“However, due to the severe weather, it is estimated that durian trees are producing only 30% of last year’s amount,” he said.
With lower produce and supply, prices, said Lim, were expected to be higher.
“Musang King, which used to average between RM45 and RM48 per kg, will now be about RM60.
“The Black Thorn variety, which in the past averaged between RM60 and RM70 per kg, will be about RM80,” he said, adding that the increase in price was also due to other factors such as costs.
Orchard owner Eric Yeap said fertilisers that used to cost RM130 per 50kg now cost RM250, which was almost double the price.
“The heavy rain caused flowers to drop from the trees and resulted in fewer fruits this year. This affects all types of durian,” he said.
It was reported that the high cost of fertilisers – which requires high amount of energy to be manufactured – is due to the conflict in Ukraine with Russia, a big exporter of oil and natural gas.
The closure of Shanghai port in China due to Covid-19 has also impacted exports and supply chain.
However, Tan Chee Wei, 39, who operates Durian Kaki in Paya Terubong, said as the season for the fruit had just kicked off in Penang, they would wait and see before deciding on the price.
“The price is high now as fruits have just started to drop. Due to the foreseen shortage, we are worried that prices from suppliers might increase.
“If durians are pricier, we may end up selling less as most consumers are also being affected by the weak economy,” he said.
Another durian trader in Bayan Lepas, who wished to be known as Ah Kok, 62, said farmers had alerted him about lower supply this year.
“Usually, I would receive between 150kg and 300kg of durian but I was informed that all traders would be receiving less.
“They said this was due to lower produce – similar to what our suppliers in Pahang have told us earlier. Farmers there have been hit hard by the rainy weather and lower produce, and supply was too small to be distributed to Penang.
“I’m really hoping to have more to sell as tourists will be coming soon but yet, we cannot simply raise prices,” he said.