Durians enjoy online virus boom | Daily News


 

Durians enjoy online virus boom

A worker using a calculator at a durian shop in Kuala Lumpur. When a coronavirus lockdown confined Malaysians to their homes, street traders selling durians moved their pungent produce online -- and have been enjoying an unexpected spike in demand. - AFP
A worker using a calculator at a durian shop in Kuala Lumpur. When a coronavirus lockdown confined Malaysians to their homes, street traders selling durians moved their pungent produce online -- and have been enjoying an unexpected spike in demand. - AFP

MALAYSIA: When a coronavirus lockdown confined Malaysians to their homes, street traders selling durians moved their pungent produce online -- and have been enjoying an unexpected spike in demand.

Grown across tropical Southeast Asia, the durian is hailed by aficionados as the “king of fruits” due to its creamy, golden flesh and bittersweet flavour.

But detractors complain of its overpowering smell, comparing it to rotting food or stale vomit, and it is banned in many hotels and on public transport.

The traditional roadside stalls where Malaysians have for decades enjoyed the smelly fruits were, along with most other businesses, forced to close during the lockdown.Motorbike and car deliveries were still allowed, however, and companies such as Dulai Fruits Enterprise turned to social media to market their frozen durians.

Managing director Eric Chan said he had been sceptical the move would work as Malaysians typically prefer fruit fresh, and a previous bid to sell them online had limited success.But the company has seen roaring trade, with Chan telling AFP: “By the fifth day of our sales, we (had) hundreds of orders every single day.”

Durians in Malaysia can cost more than 60 ringgit ($14) a kilogram, and there are 137 officially registered varieties ranging from “Musang King” to “Black Thorn” and “Red Prawn”.

Online sales of the fruit in Malaysia have since slowed after restrictions were eased at the start of May, as durian lovers gradually returned to outdoor stalls.

Malaysia has seen a relatively small outbreak of COVID-19, recording almost 9,000 cases and 124 deaths.Online orders are still only a fraction of business for durian traders, with the bulk going to exporters -- the fruit is particularly popular in China -- and local shops, but they are hopeful about future prospects. - AFP


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