Malaysian durian traders turn to online sales to overcome coronavirus curbs

Prohibition of gatherings by roadside stalls have posed challenges for the durian industry.
Prohibition of gatherings by roadside stalls have posed challenges for the durian industry.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) has anticipated a lower-than-normal durian yield this season at below 300,000 metric tonnes due to frequent rainfall and a lack of manpower to look after durian farms as a result of movement curbs due to the coronavirus.

In addition, the prohibition of gatherings by roadside stalls have also posed some challenges for the industry.

Nevertheless, continuing demand for the fruit both locally and internationally has the industry optimistic about the prospects for the year.

Given the inability to take the fruit directly to people, many durian traders have turned to online platforms for sales while adhering to the Movement Control Order (MCO).

A box of branded durians such as Musang King and D24 that usually costs RM35 (S$11.50) is now being sold for as low as 66 sen as part of one online site's super sales promotion that ends on Saturday (June 6).

One of the participating durian sellers, Ms Leow E Shuen from Penang, said each box of durians would weigh between 300g and 380g.

"It's the time to enjoy the King of Fruits. For this campaign, we are selling our branded durians at 66 sen per box. Usually, it costs between RM35 and RM38. We hope to build our brand and sell our products on more online platforms and bring our business to greater heights," said Ms Leow.

She said: "We received a lot of orders for our durian delivery service during the MCO and conditional MCO period. We first offered delivery services in 2018, but back then, many local and foreign tourists still preferred to dine in.

"And this year, we have no choice but to only cater to delivery. We have been delivering durians to our customers as far as Selangor. As our customers are adapting to the new norm of ordering durians online, we have to be innovative too, " she said.

 
 
 

Durian seller L.Y. Ang said business has been good since he began selling online in April.

"Business was brisk from the beginning. I was selling through online platforms and there were agents who came to us for durians. It's the peak season now and we are dealing with many wholesalers from Kuala Lumpur. Most of them are looking for branded durians such as Musang King, black thorn, Hor Lor, hong xia and green skin," he said.

Shopee regional managing director Ian Ho said a wide range of durians such as D24 and Musang King would be available under the 66 sen super deal.

"Consumers simply need to stay tuned and get onto the platform at midnight. They will need to be fast as there will be limited quantity each day. If users miss that window, they can also look for other shocking deals throughout the campaign.

"Close to 500 packs of durians, including Capri, Hor Lor and Musang King, will be sold at attractive deals, starting from 15 per cent off. Most of the products are vacuum packed so they are easy to be transported to the buyers. It also saves buyers the trouble of having to pry open the durians.

"Some sellers do sell the fruits as well, hence customers have various options based on their personal preference," he said.