SINGAPORE: After having to pay exorbitant prices this year for their favourite spiky fruit, durian lovers are set to get some sweet respite.
Prices for the prized Mao Shan Wang variety may fall to as low as $15 to $20 per kilogram in the coming weeks, after hitting highs of over $40 earlier this year amid lower supply from Malaysia.
While wet weather conditions there had made for a poor harvest during the mid-year peak season, vendors are hoping that a year-end bumper harvest will help them to recover from the lower sales this year.
Mr Alvin Teo, who owns Durian 36 in Geylang Road, said that sales this year have been the worst in his decade in the business.
"This year, the harvest has been really bad... Singaporeans see the prices and are not willing to buy," said Mr Teo, who is currently selling Mao Shan Wang, or Musang King, for $22 per kg, down from a high of $40 per kg last month.
Prices are likely to continue to fall to around $18 per kg next week, depending on supply, he said.
Mr Shui Poh Sing, owner of Ah Seng Durian at Ghim Moh Market, said a bumper harvest is expected next month, with farms in Johor and Pahang bearing fruit at the same time.
"The coming season should be better... Prices next month will fall to maybe $15 to $18," he said.
Combat Durian in Balestier Road saw sales drop by 20 to 30 per cent during the last season in June and July owing to the higher prices.
Said owner Linda Ang: "Hopefully, with more supply coming from Pahang and Muar, it will be cheaper. The prices have already dropped from $35 last week to $22 now."
But any easing of prices could be short-lived as a growing demand for durians in China could send prices higher in years to come, observers said. China's durian imports have tripled over the last decade, with Malaysia trailing behind Thailand in exports.
"China gets first pick (of Malaysian durians) because it can offer a good price... That means fewer for us," said Durian 36's Mr Teo, who added that he is considering shifting his business focus to Malaysian-based export trade to tap into demand from China.
"Prices have slowly been going up for all durian vendors in Singapore over the last two to three years," he said.
Durian enthusiast Tommy Lim, 43, said that with multiple farms in Pahang and Johor bearing fruit at the same time, the plentiful supply should make prices lower than in the last season.
"But durian lovers will definitely feel the pinch, because it will still be way higher than maybe five years ago, when Mao Shan Wang went as low as $8 per kg," said Mr Lim, who works in a bank.
Source: The Straits Times