KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 — High demand coupled with limited supply of liquid nitrogen in Malaysia may cut the country's durian exports, especially to China, hurting revenue for local producers, The Malaysian Insight reported today.
Citing Duricious Sdn Bhd founder Simon Chin, the news portal reported that more Malaysian entrepreneurs are jumping on the export bandwagon, leading to higher output from farms and requirement for liquid nitrogen to freeze the thorny fruit.
"Many durian processing plants have increased their demand for liquid nitrogen. However, there are only three companies producing liquid nitrogen in Malaysia, and it is in short supply.
"If the problem cannot be resolved this year, it may become a crisis for durian exports,” Chin was quoted saying.
Malaysia can only export whole durians to China if they are frozen first, so exporters use liquid nitrogen to flash freeze durians to retain the fruit’s taste and texture as it deteriorates quickly.
However, Chin told the news portal that the price of liquid nitrogen has doubled and durian processing factories do not receive the amount ordered, if they receive any at all as the element is in high demand for the oil-and-gas industry as well.
"We look around for factories that still have liquid nitrogen and buy from them at high prices. Some even source from Singapore, but this is unsustainable as the price is too high,” he was quoted as saying.
He added that liquid nitrogen suppliers must get approval from authorities first before increasing production.
Another exporter, James Wong of Pochi Durian Trading Sdn Bhd, told The Malaysian Insight that he is running out of liquid nitrogen and struggling to find a supplier.
"Without it, we simply cannot handle frozen durian processing. This will definitely affect future exports,” he reportedly said.
According to the news portal, durians that cannot be frozen are turned into paste or puree in a measure to combat wastage.
Malaysian durians have a strong following in China, particularly varieties such as Musang King and increasingly popular Black Thorn.
A factor behind Malaysia's increased durian output is the opening of new land in Kelantan’s highland forests for durian farms.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, a free trade agreement between Asia-Pacific nations, has boosted the sale of durians, which has become popular in China.