Durian lovers are in for a big treat as the harvest for the king of fruits this season is better than last year's - and that could mean lower prices all around.
Fruit and vegetable wholesaler Chit Huat's sales manager, Ms Tan Shuqing, said this was due to good weather. "There is a durian cycle in which every 15 years, the harvest is very good and the trees grow very well. There is a twofold increase in the durian harvest this year," explained the 34-year-old.
227 Katong Durian seller Wong Yew Loon, 58, said the harvest season in Pahang and Johor coincided this year. It typically occurs in early July in Pahang but started earlier this year. Johor's harvest season is normally end-May to early June.
Both Ms Tan and Mr Wong also said Singapore is seeing an increase in supply because of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in Malaysia. "Durian sales in Malaysia slow down due to Ramadan because there is less demand and so they will push out to Singapore," said Mr Wong.
And that has seen prices plummet in some places.
Chinese newspaper Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday that the Mao Shan Wang variety - a top choice for durian aficionados - can be bought for as low as $9.90 a kilogram in Geylang, down from the usual $18. The price of Red Prawn durians has also plummeted from $12 a kg to just $2.90.
For those on a smaller budget, one durian store owner said that cheaper varieties can be picked up at 50 cents a fruit.
Wholesaler Ms Tan said generally, durian prices - regardless of variety - are lower this year by 30 to 40 per cent compared with the middle of last year. But she said that "prices will still differ from shop to shop because of quality".
Fruits Top 1 Department Store, which has branches in Geylang and Toa Payoh, said good harvests in Malaysia may not mean more of the spiky fruit for Singapore. Owner Teoh See Aik, 38, said: "Factories in Malaysia use them to make durian puree, and they are also exported to China for consumption."
But Mr Arthur Gan, 38, who runs the 30-year-old family-owned Durian Lingers, which has shops in Bukit Timah and Sengkang, assured durian fans that there are enough for everyone. "People in China caught on to durians in the last two years and the supply to Singapore was affected and prices were high. But this year, we won't be affected because of oversupply."
Oh, for a Durian Party Day
>>Think page 33