Why stinky durian fruit is a big hit in China

WION New Delhi, India Jul 31, 2020, 08.11 PM(IST) Edited By: Palki Sharma

Durian being sold by a vendor amid coronavirus pandemic Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Durian is predominantly grown in south-east Asia. It is called the 'king of fruits' by its die-hard fans.

Durian, which is banned in many public places in Asia due to its rank smell is a big hit in China. 

Durian-flavoured foods include pizza, butter, salad dressing and milk; KFC has even added "durian exploding chicken nuggets" to its menu.

Many compare eating stinky durian for the first time to eating a pudding next to an open sewer because no one can cut open the fruit without nauseating.

According to food writer Richard Sterling it ''smells like onions fried in turpentine, garnished with a gym sock''.

Also read: Malaysia's traditional Ramzan markets go digital amid pandemic

"The durian growers and the industry is gearing up in terms of developing new flavours and marketing strategies," said Dzaeman Dzulkifli, executive director at the Tropical Rainforest Conservation & Research Centre (TRCRC).

"It becomes a global commodity. With the technology to freeze-dry or package it well, and get it transferred to China immediately with the freshness still there."

Durian is predominantly grown in south-east Asia. It is called the ''king of fruits'' by its die-hard fans.

There were reports that the soaring Chinese demand for the stinky durian fruit before the pandemic was turning into the next big threat to Malaysia's depleted rainforest, as per conservation experts.

The demand of durian in Malaysia fell during the pandemic because of the lockdown due to which traditional roadside durian stalls were forced to close down.

The movement curbs forced thousands of street hawkers and vendors to embrace digital platforms, mirroring a shift in neighbouring Indonesia, where roadside businesses enjoy a sizeable online presence.

However, when vendors tried to embrace this idea of selling the cut-up fruit online, they did not find any transportation because of the fruit's smell.

As a result, they came up with another solution in the form of air-tight packaging. The plan worked and soon online sales led to a big spike in demand

While online sales of the fruit have declined in Malaysia, durian lovers are gradually returning to outdoor stalls since lockdown restrictions were eased at the start of May.

But, consumers have come to see the advantages of having the fruit delivered to their doorstep. It's a luxury some never had before: to flinch at the stench in private, while enjoying the delicacy.